At last month's College Admission Ceremony, College President Professor Jackie Taylor gave her address to diplomates and guests. Here you can read the full text of this, which comes as part of the new edition of our Membership magazine "College Voice".
This is a high point in the College calendar, where we welcome new Fellows and Members, and which helps us to remember what a global community we are. We all have memorable days in our lives I’m sure many of you can remember events like graduation, passing a driving test, getting engaged, married, first child and I hope that this day, this special day will will be one that you look back on with the same happiness.
Why is it special? Well it signifies the culmination of your work, effort and sacrifice. You have been successful in gaining qualifications which are gold standard and recognised the world over, or you have been elevated to Fellowship as recognition of your position and professional standing. These qualifications and post nominals set you apart within the profession as being the best of the best.
Achievement takes effort- the Brazilian footballer Pele said:
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all love of what you are doing.”
There is no short cut to success, but you have shown that you have not only the ability, but the motivation and dedication to succeed.
None of this happens in isolation, we all work, we have families, we have lives outside medicine and healthy work life balance isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Your parents, partners and children have all had an important part to play in supporting you, and this is an opportunity for you to show your appreciation so now I would like the diplomates to stand, turn around and applaud your families.
Many of you are at an exciting early phase of your career, perhaps not yet fully decided on where your path will take you. Some of you are already established in clinical practice, some are in senior positions. Whichever stage you are at it is likely that you will have faced challenges and there will be more ahead- but then as the American politician Frank A Clark said;
“If you can find a path with no obstacles it probably doesn’t lead anywhere”.
The key thing here is perseverance. The root of the word perseverance is Latin “per very seveus strict”, “continue steadfastly” and that’s what I’d encourage you to do. As the saying goes, “Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful”.
We all have disappointments, we all suffer setbacks, but what defines us is how we respond. The great Nelson Mandela said:
“Do not judge me by my successes. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”.
So persevere, continue steadfastly and you will overcome.
All of you who have become Fellows and Collegiate Members are now connected. What unites us?
First we are all part of the College. Ours is a unique College – the only multidisciplinary College where we have physicians, surgeons, dentists and specialists in Podiatric Medicine and Travel Medicine all under one umbrella.
There’s no doubt that a sense of belonging, of community is one of the most fundamental human needs. In the UK in particular now, with shift patterns and rotations, sometimes it can be hard to feel part of a team. Wherever you are in the world, Ayr or Abu Dhabi, Chester or Chennai, Morpeth or Mandalay you belong to our community and I encourage you to be an active member of that community, get involved, stay connected, and be the life blood of the College and the College will support you throughout your career. If you have collected your MRCP(UK) diploma and decided not to become a Collegiate member, then do think again.
The second thing that unites us is that we share wonderful caring professions. We are privileged to be with people at some of the best and worst times of their lives. We have a responsibility to continue to develop our knowledge and our skills, to be the very best healthcare professionals that we can be and that without doubt is a lifelong process. To be the best remember the importance of developing your nonclinical skills. It’s not enough to know the latest in genomics investigations, drugs and devices and artificial intelligence, you must remember the human factors- communication, team working, leadership, managing uncertainty are of equal importance.
The great William Osler, known as the Father of Modern Medicine, states this beautifully:
“The good physician treats the disease, the great physician treats the patient who has the disease”.
And through our education and training, and e-learning, nowhere is too far away anymore and the College will help you with crucial human factors training.
Life these days is incredibly fast paced, work and training are demanding, patients have high expectations, communications are instantaneous, no sooner has something happened than it’s on Twitter and Instagram. The workplace while very rewarding has an unrelenting pressure, an emotional cost that can at times prove too much and lead to burnout and ill health. I urge you therefore to be self-aware, to be kind to yourself, to care for yourself and be concerned for the wellbeing of your colleagues. Talk with your peers, share experiences, do something that makes you happy – I will repeat, a good work life balance isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity so that you can play the long game. Your wellbeing is another of the priorities for my term of office-and again there are many ways in which the College can support you.
In closing, to provide the highest standards of healthcare, we need to be the best version of ourselves that we can be-in terms of professional ability and our own wellbeing. We’ve all been inspired today by the incredible achievements of our Honorary Fellows -sitting in this hall are the inspirational Honorary Fellows of the future.
I leave you with the words of the author Roy T Bennett.
“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself."
Not all of us will do great things, but it’s important that we do the small things to the best of our ability. That is the secret of a happy and fulfilling career.