Meet Dr Rebecca Weerakoon
Rebecca Weerakoon, originally from York, is a South East Scotland trainee, in acute and general internal medicine, with a special interest in clinical leadership and management. She is also a Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellow with the Scottish Government Health Workforce and NHS Education for Scotland (NES).
Rebecca Weerakoon being interviewed by Megan Sutherland
Rebecca studied medicine at Edinburgh University and decided to take an intercalated year out in her third year to do a B.Sc. in medical biology. She did her foundation training in the South East region of the Scotland Deanery and then pursued a further three years of acute common care stem (ACCS) medicine training.
When asked what influenced her to train in acute medicine, Rebecca said she enjoyed the challenges of its massive variety. She believes that it develops key leadership and management skills as well as allowing you as a doctor to be there with the patient in the most key moments. She describes it as a busy specialty with enjoyable pressures, involving a huge amount of team work and patient interaction that is always rewarding.
On top of a massively busy working life, Rebecca has still found time to incorporate her interests outside of the workplace. She has undertaken three separate courses, is in the front row of a woman’s rugby team and takes part in Brazilian ju-jitsu amongst other activities.
Being a Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellow
This last year she has become a Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellow. This is a well renowned scheme available to medical and dental trainees to encourage them to strive for medical excellence and develop their skills to a very high level. Rebecca described being a Leadership Fellow as something that allowed her to undertake a massive amount of personal development and as providing a vision of collective leadership in the NHS.
“You are given the tools to become the best version of yourself and take part in many interesting projects and paired learning. It brings about a realisation that teamwork is key to a career in medicine and provides you with endless opportunities such as developing courses. It also comprises of working on the development of the fellowship itself and maintaining a high quality element to all the work you do.”
After her year as a Fellow, she continued her clinical job and retains half a session a week for leadership and management. Rebecca’s Fellowship focused on the different ways to use social media, face to face and digital solutions to change and improve how NHS Scotland recruit and retain doctors.
Rebecca's focus on recruitment & retention
Rebecca is particularly interested in how NHS Scotland can influence more medical students to remain in Scotland after the foundation stage of their training. She believes that we can do this by making people feel valued and empowered. “We must communicate the knowledge to our doctors that they have a very challenging career, recognize the sacrifices made by doctors in order to do their jobs, but most importantly celebrate that it is an amazing job filled with opportunity.”
“We need to take the NHS Scotland National Care Standards and apply them to medical training, using internal marketing resources to do so. We need to use these principles and place trainees at the centre, empowering them and providing them with a sense of being valued and appreciated.”
Rebecca also feels that there is a huge need to create a work- life balance that works for every individual and that the trainers want to understand all trainees in a holistic way to promote a healthy working life.
Training in Scotland
Rebecca feels as though she has had very good formal support through NES throughout her medical career. She feels as though all the directors are involved and this has helped her to develop her career in innovative ways. She has been able to shape her career in the way she wants as well as having received extensive guidance throughout her time as a trainee. She feels her training experience has been improved through the digital support systems (Turas) developed by NES and she expressed a huge liking about how NES are continuing to improve these. She feels the support she has been given has been of a high standard and that all those that provide such support strive to listen intently to every individual’s ideas. She has always felt valued and listened to.
She spoke about how doctors learn over time just how essential working as a team is, and that once you have fully developed these skills you will reap all the rewards.
She stressed that the most rewarding part of training and working as a doctor in Scotland had to be working with people. While this seems a generic answer, she continued to describe the importance of realizing the holistic element to medicine as opposed to the educational side, and how this is actually the most important and rewarding side to medicine.
Being a Doctor in Scotland
Rebecca described being a doctor in Scotland as challenging, but a challenge that is always worthwhile. She has always felt like a valued individual throughout her medical career. She has found that there is a real sense that the doctors train because they want to and not because they have to.
As a doctor in Scotland, in the near future Rebecca commented that she sees herself completely committed to acute and general medicine and she ultimately pictures herself as a clinician in this field. She would also like to continue to be thoroughly involved in clinical leadership and management systems as she believes that this is hugely complimentary to her career in acute and general medicine.