Meeting the former BUPA Medical Director (Blog 1)

Hi all, I’m Jessica and I’m a 4th year medical student at Birmingham. I was incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to be mentored by Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, the former BUPA Medical Director. I was so pleased to have been ‘matched’ with Andrew as we share interests, especially with the British Medical Association (BMA) and we have both experienced being on a BMA committee whilst the Junior Doctor Contract negotiations were ongoing, albeit a few years apart, so it’s fantastic being mentored by someone who understands the issues surrounding it and provides insightful points. We first met in October on the night of the 5 Year Celebration of Mentoring Event. I was initially contacted by Andrew, who sent a friendly email and started the conversation going. We met for coffee in the evening and we had a small amount of time to introduce ourselves and discuss what my short-term plans were for my career. I am open-minded when it comes to specialising as a doctor, but I have a keen interest in medical leadership and management (this really is the perfect scheme for me!). 4th year medics are given 6 weeks to do an elective placement, and I saw this was an opportunity to gain experience in this field. However, I’d struggled to get in contact with big companies that could run a placement for medical students. Andrew has very kindly given me ideas for companies to try and even got me in contact with high-level members within these companies. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the Health Foundation for my elective, and I really look forward to my placement there. After coffee, we attended the celebration event, which was enjoyable and it was fantastic to see so many people with their mentors. Everyone was so friendly! And it was great to meet like-minded individuals.

 

We had our 2nd meeting in December in an Italian restaurant in London. This was our first proper meeting as we had more time to talk. I felt honoured when Andrew handed me a Christmas card, I think it shows that the mentors do really care about the ALMP scheme and the mentees. We had an interesting discussion about Andrew’s career from doing medicine at Birmingham to where he is now, and it was fascinating as he has had such a varied career and achieved so much. He is now involved in many different projects since semi-retiring from BUPA and this allows him to wear many different hats. We discussed events where I could shadow Andrew, including a meeting for the Private Healthcare Information Network, which he is Chair. I’m really looking forward to shadowing Andrew as it will give me a real insight into what happens at these meetings and also provides an opportunity to meet other people in leadership and management positions. I would never have been given these opportunities without being mentored by Andrew, and he has been so generous in his time to provide these opportunities for me, which I’m so grateful for.

 

Jessica Court

4th year Medical Student

BMA MSC Representative for the University of Birmingham

BMA West Midlands Regional Council MSC Representative

FMLM Representative for the University of Birmingham

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