12 FYi • Profile


NHS Entrepreneur Dr Abeyna Jones explains how her quest for a satisfying career inspired her to launch her own business


Learning curve During her core surgical training, an opportunity arose to work in general and trauma surgery in South Africa and the London-based doctor jumped at it. The 18-month trip would become a life-changing experience and help carve out her then-uncertain future. Taking a sabbatical from her UK post, she went to work in a

semi-rural public healthcare setting where resources weren’t as readily available compared to the major cities. “The learning curve was huge,” she says. “I had to perform trauma

laparotomies, amputations and bowel resection within a few weeks of arriving when all I could really do after my two years of core surgical training [back in the UK] was basic appendicectomies and circumcisions.” Being a UK doctor working overseas does pose its challenges, and


TARTING life as a newly-qualified doctor was not quite how Dr Abeyna Jones imagined it would be. Having successfully completed her medical degree, she felt “disenchanted” by the prospect of years more of exams, qualifications, certificates and gruelling work. But far from giving up, Abeyna decided to make positive

changes by launching her own business. And her new venture, Medic Footprints, didn’t just take her career in a completely new direction, it has done the same for thousands of other clinicians too. The social enterprise, which aims to help doctors diversify their careers and improve their wellbeing, has gone from strength to strength and earned praise from NHS England who have named her as one of their “clinical entrepreneurs”. Speaking to FYi while on honeymoon in rural Vietnam, the doctor talks about how the decision to diversify in her own medical career has brought flexibility and life experience, but above all, happiness. She says: “As a junior doctor the experience was quite different

from what I expected. There was still a lot to learn after five years of medical school, with perpetual exams, qualifications, certificates and more. I wondered whether the time and cost investment of medicine as a career was worth it.”

Dr Jones experienced a few. The language barrier was a particular challenge in the Zulu-speaking community in which she was based. However, the entire experience helped her grow professionally as a doctor. She says: “It reminded me why I went into medicine in the first place and clarified that I was previously frustrated with the UK healthcare system – not medicine as a whole.”

Diversifying The experience prompted Abeyna to make some big professional changes. Not only did she set up Medic Footprints in 2014, she then took the difficult decision to leave surgery and to retrain as a specialist in occupational medicine where she could spend more time with patients and work more regular hours. There are similarities across her roles as a businesswoman and as

an occupational health (OH) physician. In both, her mission is to ensure doctors are happy in what they do, offering advice and support to clinicians who may be suffering from physical or mental health problems, stress or other issues affecting their work. Both roles also allow her to apply her entrepreneurial skills such as tendering contracts, bidding, and developing relationships. NHS England is hoping to encourage these types of entrepreneurial skills and much more with their clinical entrepreneur training programme. As one of the scheme’s official “clinical entrepreneurs”, Abeyna and her colleagues are offered opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial goals in the hope they will drive innovation and improve

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