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Blogpost: IAP 2021 Young Physicians Leaders Programme

Dr Eimear Duff recently represented the Academy at the IAP 2021 Young Physicians Leaders Programme.

Effective healthcare institutions need effective leaders. The IAP Young Physician Leaders (YPL) programme trains emerging leaders (under the age of 40) working in healthcare centres around the world and links them together in a peer-support network.

The issue of developing leadership qualities among health professionals is often neglected, with many young professionals having to learn their leadership skills almost by trial and error as they are handed positions of responsibility.

Although incorporating leadership training programmes into the medical curriculum is gaining in importance, in practice too few countries are actually providing such training. To contribute to building capacity in this area, the IAP launched its Young Physician Leaders (YPL) programme in 2011 in partnership with the World Health Summit (WHS) and the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centres and Medical Universities.

To date, the IAP YPL network of alumni includes more than 200 leading young professionals, under the age of 40, who were nominated by their national academies. The Royal Irish Academy was recently represented at the IAP 2021 Young Physicians Leaders Programme by Dr Eimear Duff of St James’s Hospital. Here, Dr Duff reflects on her experience of the programme, which this year was held virtually.

In the shadow of a global pandemic, the 2021 Young Physicians Leaders Programme was held virtually, but was no less an immensely worthwhile experience. Our experience kicked off with a meet-and-greet session, where I came to know a group of fascinating young physicians from all corners of the globe from Tanzania to Turkey, Chile to India. All were involved in a range of clinical, policy, research, and educational roles. Hearing about their impressive career journeys, all working toward a common goal of solving complex health problems and improving healthcare worldwide, was inspiring. I look forward to hopefully meeting them in-person in spring 2022 as planned.

The World Health Summit itself provided a smörgåsbord of interesting discussions. There was a particular focus on pandemic preparedness and response, with interconnected themes of vaccine policy for health equity, planetary health, access to essential medicines, artificial intelligence, among many others, being explored. With seven sessions being held concurrently at any one timeslot, I initially felt torn between which to attend, and flitted between different virtual ‘rooms’, trying to absorb as much as possible. I soon realised the sessions were uploaded onto YouTube shortly afterwards! At the Young Physician Leaders’ spotlight on “Empowering Young Global Health Leadership”, there was an excellent discussion on our shared professional challenges, and solutions to these explored. Another particularly enjoyable session was the interactive “Pettenkofer Talk” on career paths in the interdisciplinary field of Global Public Health, where I gained useful career advice from Prof. Dr. Ilona Kickbusch. As a patient-facing clinician, I had the invaluable opportunity to zoom out from wards and clinics and immerse myself in the World Health Summit, reflecting on broader issues in global health. I am deeply grateful to the Royal Irish Academy and the InterAcademy Partnership for this extraordinary experience.

Dr Eimear Duff, November 2021

Image: Dr Eimear Duff

Dr Eimear Duff is a Senior House Officer in internal medicine at St James’s Hospital, Ireland’s largest acute academic teaching hospital. As a doctor with a passion for clinical leadership, health policy and health systems improvement, Dr Duff previously served as an intern with the Leadership, Management and Coordination division of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in Geneva. She also worked as a special assistant to the executive team of Results for Development, a global nonprofit working with change agents around the globe to create strong, self-sustaining health and education systems for all. She is passionate about the broader environmental factors which pose a major challenge to health, and at the last DotMD conference, successfully pioneered a collaborative project with Irish Doctors for the Environment (IDE) to make the conference a ‘green meeting’.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by authors are their own and do not reflect the position of the Royal Irish Academy