A unique networking site for medics launches this week to support training doctors and to improve healthcare for islanders by encouraging outstanding doctors to work in the Bailiwick.
Conceived by Elizabeth College chemistry teacher and medicine mentor Pippa Read, with particular support from the Medical Specialist Group, the Guernsey Medic Network is the result of a groundbreaking collaboration between the Colleges, the Sixth Form Centre, the MSG, Health and Social Care and all GP practices in Guernsey and Alderney.
Membership of the network is open to anyone with a link to Guernsey who is either applying to medical school, already a medical student, a junior doctor, a GP or specialist, or a professional who supports doctors.
As well as finding out more about healthcare in Guernsey and about job, training and work experience opportunities, members of the network will be able to chat online with each other, share their experiences, and search for a mentor, or offer to mentor another member.
The idea for a network came about earlier this year after conversations between Pippa and three local doctors: Dr Julia Rebstein of IslandHealth who runs their GP rotation scheme for medicine undergraduates, Mr George Cooper, an MSG consultant orthopaedic surgeon who grew up in the Bailiwick, and Dr Oliver Collas, an islander who is a rheumatology and general medicine registrar at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Pippa, who chairs the Guernsey Medic Network steering group, says, ‘We saw an opportunity to bring together all the wonderful support that is already offered by the medical partners for sixth formers in the island and develop this to maintain support for undergraduates and junior doctors, many of whom already are in touch with each other while off island.
‘We’re particularly grateful to the MSG who have shared our vision for this network and made it possible, along with all the schools and medical partners who have jointly helped design and write the website.
‘We would now love to welcome any doctors to the network who have a fond attachment to the island and would be happy to support younger doctors or applicants or just to network with other members of the Bailiwick living or working near to them. To join the network anyone with a link to both medicine and the Bailiwick, including being a close friend or relative to a Guernsey person, should register on www.guernseymedicnetwork.gg. With our healthcare system being quite different to the NHS we also hope that our website will be a useful source of information to explain how working in Guernsey differs from other locations.’
Dr Steve Evans, chair of the MSG, which provided the funding to get the project off the ground, says, ‘Pippa has been the driving force behind the project, working tirelessly with the other stakeholders to make sure it comes to fruition as she can clearly see the benefits of such a network for our island community.
‘Recruiting high quality doctors is a key priority at the MSG and we can see this network making a significant difference, not just because it will help us attract doctors who have a Guernsey connection but also because it will encourage locally born doctors to be ambassadors for the island among their UK colleagues, even if they’re not ready to come back themselves.
‘I can also see the network opening up opportunities for young people locally who want to follow a career in medicine but who don’t have local contacts in the profession.’
Dr Julia Rebstein of IslandHealth adds, ‘Our practice has been an enthusiastic partner in the Guernsey Medic Network from the very beginning. All Guernsey practices are supportive of this great initiative because it can only help to promote primary care careers in Guernsey to people who have a link to the Island.
‘At IslandHealth, we very much take the long view and offer training rotations to medical students. This network allows us to get those training opportunities even better known outside the island, which will definitely promote healthcare in Guernsey and of course the island itself.’
Dr Oliver Collas comments, ‘It's a fantastic opportunity for off-island Sarnian doctors to remain connected with local healthcare. They can work collaboratively with Guernsey doctors to plot their own course back to the island, help medical school applicants and support undergraduates and junior doctors.’
The Guernsey Medic Network has been built with support from the Old Elizabethan Association, using ToucanTech which has been used for several years to run NetworkOE, the site for former Elizabeth College students.
A launch event will take place at 6pm on Thursday 14 September at Elizabeth College, generously sponsored by Healthcare Group, IslandHealth, Queens Road Medical Practice, both Elizabeth and Ladies’ College and the OEA. Registration for the event is open until the end of the week, via guernseymedicnetwork.gg.