Curriculum vitae: Subodh Dave

Authors: Anne Gulland 

Publication date:  09 Jan 2018


Subodh Dave, consultant psychiatrist at Royal Derby Hospital and clinical teaching fellow at Nottingham University, grew up in Mumbai. He is passionate about education and making the most of the skills of international medical graduates.

Accidental doctor

I got into medicine by accident. I wanted to be a nuclear physicist or an engineer and I got into the Indian Institute of Technology—but after a few weeks I realised I wanted contact with people. I ended up seeing an educational psychologist who carried out some tests which said I should enter law. At that time it was a postgraduate subject so I decided to do medicine and then move into law later—but I discovered psychiatry and never looked back.

Learning from patients

When I did my psychiatry internship in India, one of my teachers was interested in cognitive behavioural therapy and I used this with my patients. I would take them to the hospital canteen or on local buses to help them overcome their phobias. As a trainee it was exciting to do something like that—I learnt a lot from patients and from my teachers.

Moving to the UK

My wife—also a psychiatrist—and I moved to Wolverhampton from Bombay (as it was then called) to do our higher specialty training. Bombay is a fast moving, 24 hour city and Wolverhampton seemed very quiet. I started on an overseas doctors’ training scheme and was with people who had just completed their foundation training. I’d done a lot of training so my knowledge and skills were far stronger than theirs and, although I got a lot of respect from medical and nursing colleagues, many trainers treated me just like any other trainee.

Helping overseas graduates

When you come to the UK you don’t know your options or understand the system. I didn’t know I could move to another deanery. No one sat me down and asked me about my strengths or learning needs. It’s a real shame. Overseas doctors are often set up to fail. In many medical schools in Asia and Africa there is less emphasis on confidentiality or ethical issues. It’s normal for relatives to sit in on consultations so it doesn’t enter your mind that a person has a right to privacy. Doctors are given a link to Good Medical Practice and expected to have that knowledge and skills from day one.

On-the-job teaching

I have always enjoyed teaching and have done it since I was a trainee. The nomination [for Royal College of Psychiatrists’ trainer of the year] was very gratifying and it was even better to win it. I see education as a tool for bringing about changes to patient care. I think the award was a recognition of my approach—I get my students and trainees involved in real clinical work and learning on the job.

Voluntary work

I do some voluntary work training psychiatrists in Zambia. I wanted to develop leadership potential in my trainees in the UK so I sent some of them out there. One of them realised that patients were being treated with antipsychotics but actually had alcohol withdrawal, so we introduced a structured assessment. When people come to the clinic they have to wait for hours, so the trainees introduced some simple health checks. The trainees really love the idea of being creative and effecting change.

Making the most of what you have

When you grow up in a country like India, the idea that you can get more resources is not really an option. Psychiatry in the UK is under-resourced but this shouldn’t act as a barrier. A colleague from India has started a physical health clinic for people with mental health problems—he just shuffled the workforce around and it didn’t need any new money.

Widening participation

My daughter recently applied to medical school and it made me realise that students who don’t have any connections don’t know where to start with the application process. I feel passionate about fairness and equality so I have been providing work experience, help with applications, and interview practice for pupils from local state schools. It’s not good for medicine if all doctors come from the same small section of society.

Marathon man

I love running and this year did the Chicago marathon, finishing with a time of three hours and 17 minutes, and I did three hours five minutes a few years ago. I also did the London to Paris cycle ride this year in less than 24 hours.

Curriculum vitae:

2016 to present: Deputy director of undergraduate medical education, Nottingham University

2014 to present: Associate dean, trainee support, Royal College of Psychiatrists

2013-17: Foundation training programme director, Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust

2013 to present: Honorary associate professor, University of Nottingham

2012 to present: Visiting professor, SRM University, Chennai, India

2005 to present: Consultant general adult psychiatrist and clinical teaching fellow, Royal Derby Hospital

2002-05: Locum consultant psychiatrist, community and inpatient psychiatry and crisis intervention, Wolverhampton; Dudley & Walsall; and Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trusts

1998-2002: Specialist registrar posts and clinical research fellow, University of Birmingham

1994-95: Lecturer, Grant Medical College, Bombay University, India

1991-94: MD, Grant Medical College, Mumbai, India

1990-91: Internship, Mumbai, India

1985-90: MBBS, Grant Medical College, Mumbai, India

Anne Gulland London

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: