BMJ Group Awards

Junior doctor award

Authors: Edward Davies 

Publication date:  16 May 2012

Edward Davies looks at the four inspirational careers of the medics shortlisted for the BMJ Group award for junior doctors

The United Kingdom’s junior doctors are some of the unsung heroes of healthcare, often balancing the bulk of a hospital’s day to day legwork with their ongoing training but with little of the recognition and prestige that their more senior colleagues enjoy. This award aims to highlight some of their great work in the UK and abroad and give a platform for some of their initiatives.

Last year’s winner was Dan Magnus, a paediatric registrar from the Severn Deanery. He cofounded the Kenyan Orphan Project in 2001 while he was a medical student at Nottingham University. Through the project more than 800 medical students and other students from 12 universities have since taken part in programmes at rural outreach medical camps. Since winning the award last year Dan has built on those achievements. Speaking to the BMJ he said, “I’ve been trying to translate evidence based child health interventions into large scale programmes. [Developing] countries are still really early on in the process; there’s a lot of trials and good academic work going on but not a lot in translating that work. I’ve written a programme to put child health interventions into primary schools; to improve child health, education, and school attendance; and to measure cognitive outcomes. The Kenyan Orphan Project is going to start rolling that out in the next 3-6 months.”

The year’s award has a similar theme, with all four finalists having, among other achievements, worked in Africa on various projects during their training. The award carries two principal criteria. The judges will assess the four shortlisted entrants according to who has:

  • Demonstrably enhanced the health and wellbeing of the wider community

  • Inspired others through their outstanding dedication to improving or initiating innovative healthcare practices.

Alexander Finlayson

Alexander can count achievements across clinical medicine (winning an award for outstanding commitment to the foundation programme), training (as chairman of the Oxford Deanery trainees committee, representing the views of training in the deanery), and academia (a Kennedy scholarship to Harvard; research for the Mayo Clinic; and, as an Oxford University academic clinical fellow, publishing a book and several peer reviewed papers). His most notable achievement, however, has been to establish MedicineAfrica, a programme offering medical students and graduating doctors from faculties across the UK the opportunity to receive weekly education, based on actual patients, in small groups in Somaliland, with follow-up mentoring. This project is now being developed in Palestine, Tanzania, and Ghana.

Clare Attwood

Clare, an anaesthetics trainee, spent part of 2011 working at Juba Teaching Hospital in South Sudan, where she helped to introduce a postgraduate medical education programme. In a country that has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world, Clare’s anaesthetics training programme resulted in an increased rate of spinal anaesthetic use during caesarean section, from 10% to 40%. Before this, ketamine, which was used in 90% of cases, carried a considerable bleeding risk. Clare and colleagues from Harvard University established a blood bank—a particular challenge, given an unreliable electricity supply, minimal funding, and cultural superstition about blood donation. Clare trained 112 nurses in malariology and triage and agreed an annual anaesthetics budget with the Ministry of Health that ensured supplies for the future.

David Attwood

A newly qualified registrar, David went with his wife, Clare, to spend part of 2011 at Juba Teaching Hospital in South Sudan, helping to devise a postgraduate medical education programme and delivering teaching modules offering formal mentoring and training. David simultaneously headed the emergency medical ward, a position in which he directly led clinical care, resulting in a 45% relative reduction in malaria related deaths after the introduction of interventions that included training 112 nurses in malaria and triage, creating an intensive care bed, and ensuring that drugs were consistently available. He also designed a business case worth $42 000 (£26 000; €32 000) to develop a four bed intensive care unit and assisted with rehousing 131 medical students displaced from Khartoum.

Hannah McLean

Hannah ran the Widows of the Nile Hospice in northern Uganda for a year, during which the inpatient capacity more than doubled. She also helped establish a medical centre at Kampala Remand Prison, treating more than 200 prisoners a week, while establishing a palliative care manual that has helped to train key nurses and carers working in Ugandan prisons. Her strategic input into the African prisons project has helped with the establishment of initiatives such as helping medical staff to study by distance learning and provision of a wide range of health activities, including sports and counselling, to hundreds of prisoners and staff. Hannah has also been commended for her work as a foundation year 1 doctor at the Royal Derby Hospital.

Edward Davies editor, BMJ Careers

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: