leadership in the NHS in the future. As NHS England says, the scheme is “designed to stimulate and encourage the most entrepreneurial clinicians to develop their own products and services to improve healthcare.” Abeyna believes creativity and an

ability to “think outside the box” are key to being an entrepreneur, but says doctors already have lots of relevant skills. “The breadth of skills that doctors learn are very easy to transfer,” she says. “Teamwork, analytics, coping with exam pressure and the need to learn quickly, good communication skills, planning, policy – these are all very relevant.” She is pleased to see the positive impact of the NHS England scheme so far, but is eager for more changes. She says: “With all the ongoing challenges in healthcare we need

“There is huge scope for doctors to diversify their career without leaving clinical practice”

under-pressure medical professionals. The organisation has worked with

doctors seeking a wide range of “non- traditional career paths”. Some want to set up their own business or charity while others are looking to spend a period of time working abroad. A handful of more extreme cases want to quit the medical profession entirely but Abeyna and her team are keen to highlight the exciting NHS career opportunities that doctors may not know about.

“Alternative careers for doctors means many different things and doesn’t mean having to leave clinical practice,” she says. “There is huge scope to do other things on the side that doctors may not even have thought about.”

doctors to develop the tools to become better leaders which can only be gained through experiences beyond day-to-day clinical work. This includes learning about business, finance, management, working in different healthcare systems and beyond.” She says NHS doctors often do not have the opportunity to develop these skills because of the predominantly clinical focus of their training. “They’re expected to magically have the knowledge required to be a healthcare leader when they reach consultant level which in my opinion is way too late.”

Wellbeing boost The goals of the clinical entrepreneur scheme dovetail nicely with Abeyna’s work at Medic Footprints. The organisation has a firm focus on wellbeing and helping clinicians to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. It provides support through webinars on alternative careers, career coaching and mentorship. It also aims to give medics access to any career opportunities in any sector – pharmaceutical, management consultancy, health tech, media, overseas and more – almost like a niche version of LinkedIn. As well as helping to drive progress in a modern NHS, Abeyna believes diversifying will also boost the health and wellbeing of

Living the dream Although her own medical career has transformed and diversified in recent years, she has certainly not turned her back on medicine and continues to work flexibly as a self-employed OH physician which complements the work she does as founder and director of Medic Footprints. Compared to how unhappy and frustrated she used to feel as a hospital doctor, Abeyna is now living the dream. She says: “I’m living a professional lifestyle I could previously only have dreamed of – and arrived here by making very conscious choices about what I wanted in my life and pursuing them. “The beauty of my life now is that I experience the rewards of what I put in – manifesting quite differently from when I was a hospital doctor. I feel much more content with my life and feel that I’ve made the right choices for me moving forward. “I think I value myself much more than I used to which is perhaps the most important point of all.”

• Find out more about Medic Footprints at:

Kristin Ballantyne is a freelance writer based in Glasgow

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