Angela Kubacki, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Communications and Associate Dean for Admissions, is one of St George’s first four public engagement champions. Here, she explains how her role as a champion has expanded her understanding of public engagement and enabled her to launch a project to enhance the clinical communications skills taught at St George’s.
Dr Angela Kubacki.
In my role as Associate Dean for Admissions, I have been involved in public engagement (PE) and school outreach work for St George’s for the past several years. This involves raising the profile of St George’s as well as raising aspirations for young people and encouraging them to apply to our healthcare programmes.
Outside of St George’s, I volunteer with HCPT – The Pilgrimage Trust; I am part of the marriage preparation team in my local parish, running courses for engaged couples, and I have served as a school governor at a large, voluntary-aided state primary school in Surrey. With this wide volunteering experience, I believe that public engagement work should be valued and recognised at St George’s and I saw the role of public engagement champion as a refreshing challenge. My hope for this role was that it would allow some protected time to develop my skills in public engagement and provide me with opportunities to learn from those who are embedding patient and public engagement into their work at the university.
This role has given me the opportunity to attend a series of workshops which formed the PE programme and I’ve found these interesting and valuable. I was able to develop a much richer understanding of what public engagement really means through the PE Introductory Workshop and I particularly enjoyed the Evaluation and Impact Workshop, delivered by UCL’s Tadhg Caffrey. I have realised that public engagement is not an add-on to a project or something that we do just to tick a box; public engagement needs to be embedded in all of our new projects to ensure that what we are doing is of value to the local and wider community. We all need to ensure that we can communicate this effectively through our engagement.
I am now designing my own public engagement project. I am planning to work with Professor Mary Chambers, and her team at the Centre for Public Engagement, to run focus groups with local patients and service users, to consider how best to work together to enhance and innovate our clinical communication curricula at St George’s. I would also like to develop activities to empower patients with the same knowledge of consultation models, history-taking and communication skills as clinicians receive, to improve their experience of the medical consultation. I believe the public would be interested in understanding what we teach about clinical communication and how patients can make the most of their consultations with their doctors.