An interview with Prof Tahir Masud - BGS President Elect
At the Annual General Meeting of the BGS in November, Professor Tahir (Tash) Masud will accept the chain of office from Dr Eileen Burns when she steps down as President of the Society. We asked Tash about the journey that led him to this point and his views on the state of geriatric medicine in general and the British Geriatrics Society in particular.
My journey to geriatric medicine and to the position of President of the British Geriatrics Society
In my early teens, growing up in a small Northern town, I wanted to be a pilot but I gradually found that I enjoyed science and during my A-Levels my thoughts turned to medicine as a potential career, encouraged by my biology teacher. After JHO and SHO training in London and on completion of MRCP, I joined a medical registrar rotation (pre-Calman days) in Newcastle. I flirted with respiratory medicine for a while but after doing a six month attachment in Geriatric Medicine I was totally converted to the specialty after working with inspirational role models. I realised that I really enjoyed treating older people and working in a multidisciplinary team.
I became a senior registrar in London and when a consultant job was advertised in Nottingham, I applied after meeting an enthusiastic and committed team intent on developing Geriatric Medicine in the hospital and the city as a whole. I became involved with the BGS after becoming a Training Programme Director, which led to my serving as a member of the BGS Education and Training committee. Through this committee I had the opportunity to join the European Union of Medical Specialists-Geriatric Medicine Section as the UK representative and eventually I was elected as the President of that organisation for two years. This experience grew my confidence in a major leadership role and I eventually decided to run for the BGS Presidency after encouragement from colleagues around the country.
How I will judge my success as President of the BGS
Following my two year term as President, which will end in November 2020, it will, of course, be for others to judge my success as President but on a personal level I will be satisfied if BGS members feel more enthusiastic, optimistic and positive about developments on the health care that we provide to older people. In order to achieve this there is a lot to do in the areas of education and training, workforce improvement, attracting more young doctors into our specialty, lobbying politicians around policy which can improve care for older people and to develop the evidence base for treating older people through research and innovation.
The evolution of geriatric medicine and the British Geriatrics Society
It has been most satisfying to see our specialty emerge from a perceived “Cinderella specialty” in the 60's and 70's to a well respected, popular and expanding specialty that has now become quite “powerful” in the appropriate circles. The credit must go to geriatricians and other healthcare professionals who have “fought” our corner and for our vulnerable older patients, in sometimes very difficult circumstances.
The BGS has become a much more professional and transparent organisation in the last few years. It strives hard to be “fit for purpose” in serving its members. I commend the efforts of Eileen Burns and the immediate Presidents who came before her, and particularly our hard working CEO, Colin Nee, for steering the ship. Colin will be retiring in a few months and my goal as President will be to work closely with our new CEO to ensure that we remain on course.
Geriatric Medicine and the undergraduate syllabus
For some time, it was a struggle to get medical schools to understand that the medical care of older people differed from general internal medicine, but demographic changes in society have forced the issue. Most medical schools now incorporate geriatric medicine in their curricula.
The BGS Undergraduate Curriculum in Geriatric medicine which has been updated several times since its inception (and is currently being updated again by the Education and Training Committee) has been instrumental in benchmarking medical schools on their Geriatric Medicine teaching and in identifying gaps in training.
Repeat audits have shown improvements, although there is still more work to do, particularly in some medical schools.
A multi-disciplinary British Geriatrics Society
Geriatric medicine has at its core, the multidisciplinary approach and the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment. Nurses and Allied Health Professionals do, and will continue to play a very important role in the future. It is only right therefore, that we have been expanding our membership to include these professions. We expect that our Nurses and AHP Council will play an increasingly important part in the Society. We need to think hard on how best to support this group through the work of the Society. As a start we have supported a Delphi process to develop a curriculum for Advance Nurse Practitioners, which has helped in their training programmes.
And so, as my term of office begins next month, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the staff of the British Geriatrics Society to continue the work of enhancing the value that our specialty brings to the NHS in general and to the care of our patients.
As is custom, I will be providing a regular column in future issues of this Newsletter and I welcome feedback on how my colleagues feel about our progress.