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Clinical Skills

Managed Educational Network

Interview with the Director of SCSCHF

What led you to where you are now?

A mixture of luck, perseverance, and the thought that healthcare can do a better job of looking after people (staff and patients). But mostly luck.

Cd you give us a bit of background on your life from school to now?

A bit boring I’m afraid. Biochemistry, due to a desire to help people, followed by a realisation that a life spent in a lab was not for me. Then Medicine, a simulation fellowship, Anaesthetics and that’s it.

How did you get into simulation?

When I was an anaesthetic trainee there was a lot of focus on technical skills. Non-technical skills (NTS) were not really discussed or taught. The Martin Bromiley video opened my eyes to the fact that you could have excellent technical skills and still fail to do the right thing due to poor NTS such as decision-making and communication. Simulation was the entry point to an understanding of the impact of NTS and a way to improve NTS. Since then I have become interested in the science of human factors ergonomics and

What posts do you juggle?

I have trouble saying “no” to things, so I do end up juggling a few different posts/roles. I’m director of the SCSCHF, current chair of the SCSN, anaesthetist, anaesthetic lead for the West of Scotland at the RCoA and executive committee member of ASPiH. Time management and prioritisation is key. To quote Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

What does your day to day job at the Sim Centre entail? What is your biggest frustration? What do you enjoy most?

There is no such thing as a “day to day” job at the sim centre as the days are so different. This week I was giving a talk to the Special Operations Retrieval Team, chairing interviews, running a course for anaesthetics and intubation in the hostile environment, organising a national conference and much more. The variety is something I love about the job.

My biggest frustration are people who see the provision of simulation as a “zero sum” game with winners and losers. This means time and effort is spent on competition and reinventing wheels rather than collaboration.

I most enjoy seeing the same lightbulb moment in others that I had when watching the Martin Bromiley video. They suddenly understand that an understanding of human factors ergonomics (through the vehicle of simulation) is key to better performance and personal wellbeing.

Would you recommend your job to your children?


How do you see simulation changing in the next 5, 10 and 50 years?

I think the equipment will become more realistic and I think augmented reality and virtual reality will improve to the point where many simulations will be carried out “inside” a computer.

Simulation will also become embedded throughout healthcare as a teaching modality and there will be an expectation that no-one will carry out a procedure on a person without having practiced it in simulation first.

If you were put in charge of the NHS what is the first thing you would do?

Resign. I value my sanity too much.

Do you practice what you preach?

I do my best not to preach as it rarely leads to change in behaviour. I do think you should “be the change you want to see” and act accordingly.

When you are not working how do you relax?

I like to spend time exploring Scotland with my family and I’m a voracious reader.

Favourite meal?

Anything my amazing, wonderful wife cooks for me.