Archive for May, 2019

abbie parkrunLast summer parkrun and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) joined forces to create #parkrunpractice, an initiative to get more people active and volunteering. I was quick to sign my practice up as I had been a regular parkrunner for the previous year. parkrun (with a small p) is a free, weekly timed 5k walk/run held most Saturdays across the country at 9am. The volunteering opportunities are plentiful; want to simply cheer then have a go at being a marshal or come last and tail walk? Take some photos, scan barcodes, guide a blind runner, or pace someone to a time. There is a role for everyone and no experience is required.

The idea of the collaboration is for general practices to register to become an official ‘parkrun practice’ and forge close links with their local run. There are many ways primary care clinicians can encourage parkrun as a beneficial activity for improving mental/physical health and social interaction within discussions around lifestyle. We have noticeboards and TV screens in the surgery waiting rooms explaining what parkrun is and regularly post on our social media channels about what the benefits can be.

The first step in becoming a parkrun practice is to contact your local parkrun. To help you locate it, there is a handy map on the parkrun website showing your nearby runs. You can email the run directing team and a lot of the runs have facebook, twitter and/or instagram accounts, and are easily contacted via these methods too. I approached one of Heslington parkrun’s run directors and asked if they would like to collaborate with us as they were 1-2 miles from a few of our sites. They were very keen and I signed us up via the RCGP website; certificates were emailed, printed and proudly displayed in all of our waiting rooms in no time.

We held a ‘parkrun takeover’ in March of this year, which I organised along with some of my GP colleagues and one of the run directors. We filled the volunteer roster with over 30 of our staff, patients and friends of the practice. We involved the local Clinical Commissioning Group (Vale of York CCG) by promoting the event in the weekly CCG bulletin and they helped spread the word through their twitter feed. On the day we had Nigel, the Clinical Chair of the CCG, chasing down Dan, the CCG cancer and end of life lead. It was fantastic to see clinicians from different practices across the patch joining forces to celebrate the benefits of parkrun. The York Integrated Care Team (YICT) are closely linked to the practice and several of their nurses and carers took part in volunteering and running on the day.


On the day over 200 participants ran or walked Heslington parkrun in the pouring rain. Despite the awful weather, there were smiles and high fives all around. It takes energy and enthusiasm to organise a takeover but I would encourage all practices to sign up and give it a go as the feedback has been fantastic across the board, one of many messages we received:

Priory Medical Group you were amazing -so many volunteers and runners, full of joy and enthusiasm, and in those conditions! Incredible! Inspirational!

To celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of parkrun practice, pledge to parkrun hopes to get 1,000 GPs to take part in a parkrun on 1 June 2019.

On a personal level, I remember being really apprehensive attending my first event after just graduating from a couch to 5k program the previous month. I needn’t have been because everyone was encouraging and it was very inclusive. I now love parkrun because on a Saturday morning for two hours I get to be me; not a doctor, not a mum, just me! I meet my pals on the start line, try my best during a 5k run and grab a coffee and a catch up afterwards. Every week I meet and chat to someone new, maybe before the run I’ll talk to a ‘parkrun tourist’ from Shrewsbury or a runner might see me struggling in the last kilometre and encourage me on. I was a working mum without any regular time out for exercise, struggling to balance everything, and parkrun gave me important headspace and kickstarted me to get active again.

The parkrun practice initiative can provide benefits to all aspects of health. I have seen some of my patients with mental health problems improve their energy levels, confidence and self-esteem thanks to couch to 5k and parkrun.  The physical health benefits of a regular 5k walk or run are clear to see. Social prescribing is on the rise and parkrun is one of many ways we can reduce the need for lifelong medication. It offers the chance to improve health and wellbeing and also encourage social inclusion within a local community.

Written by Dr Abbie Brooks, GP partner at Priory Medical Group, York. To find out more about the Royal College of General Practitioners’ parkrun practice initiative click here. To find out more about parkrun – the free, weekly, timed 5k – or to locate your nearest event, click here. Lastly, you can find out how parkrun began by reading this blog  by parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt from the Better Health For All archives.

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Hello, my name is Kathryn.  I work as a public health consultant for North Yorkshire County Council.  I was invited to write this blog to share my top tips and reflections on the transition from registrar to consultant.  I hope you find them helpful. 

1. The end of training feels like the words longest interview

Like Part A exams, needing a job feels exposing.  Recognise your value.  You are a highly trained and valued resource, your skills are needed in the system, the trick is getting employed to use them.  Most people get a job at the end of training, but it’s not uncommon for public health specialty registrars (StRs) to feel demoralised if they don’t land a job at their first interview.  Look after your mental health – eat well, exercise, sleep well, talk to friends, do what makes you feel good.   

2. Professional peer support is gold dust

The StRs you trained with could be help for life.  Be generous with your time and support, invest in your networks.  Examples of ways to do this – be in an Action Learning Set (a structured method enabling small groups to address complicated issues by meeting regularly and working collectively), train to be an Educational Supervisor, volunteer to be an appraiser, offer mentoring support.  When you need help, ask for it, there is always someone who knows more than you and can help you on the path to achieving your goals quicker.   

3. Embrace the organisational differences

As a consultant at least 40% of my time is taken up with non-project related meetings e.g. team meetings, business meetings, leadership forums and consultant catch up meetings.  In addition I line manage staff which includes objective setting, monthly 121s, appraisals.  Add to that mandatory training, budget management and negotiating sensitive office politics.  Initially I resented these commitments but now realise they are an important part of public health leadership. 

4. Embrace professional differences

As a consultant you no longer have the security and framework of the training programme.  However there is a different cradle of support, including professional appraisal and FPH continuing professional development requirements.  You can develop your support systems for example a mentor and Action Learning Set.  Also there is a move from producing work to supporting others to do it.  You are a leader in a system you don’t have to do it all, create followership – from direct reports, but also staff in other directorates and partnerships. 

5. To thine own self be true

Work out your values.  They will become useful to guide you when you have to make tough decisions.  Take opportunities to reflect and request 360 feedbacks.  It is good to know yourself. 

6. Choose projects wisely

Do routine work rather than exciting work so you’ve had a go before you are a consultant. Also choose work you don’t love or feel confident doing, practice with the safety of a supervisor.  

7. Finding a vacancy

Visit directors of public health to ask them about their “priorities and plans”.  Seek a placement where you would like to work. Remember you have a choice – think about how your values and passions fit. 

8. Preparing for interview 

Interviews can feel stressful and exposing.  It is always easier to get a job when you have a job which makes end of training even more stressful.  Start early prepare well and keep a sense of perspective.  

9. Your first year as a consultant

Write annual objectives whilst considering a three year time span.  The first year as a consultant is challenging: first professional appraisal, first annual FPH CPD return, managing budgets and staff, fitting in to a new team, building relationships with new partners, learning new portfolios, geographies, building up a body or work and a good reputation etc.  Expect your confidence to dip.  In comparison, year two is a pleasure, as you tick off all your “firsts so they are no longer daunting, you build relationships, increase knowledge, deliver meaningful work and receive good feedback. 

To conclude

Look after your mental health at the end of training and prepare well for interview. Do mundane mainstream work and don’t avoid what scares you. Know yourself, your values and your worth. Secure a mentor and structured peer support. 

Invest in your public health networks – be generous. Value the dull organisational requirements. Be realistic about what you can achieve.  Prioritise. Understand the complexity of your portfolio. Most importantly, enjoy your new job when you secure it. 

Written by Kathryn Ingold, Public Health Consultant, North Yorkshire County Council  

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