I am a respiratory registrar and education fellow at University Hospitals of Leicester.
What has been your most notable radical accomplishment or experience?
A couple of years ago I did an audit revealing only 60% of medical staff were aware we had guidelines to treat acute asthma and only 40% used them. I updated the guidelines so that they were easier to find and use, but crucially I tried something a bit different – I sang them on a YouTube video, filming the whole thing with a smart phone and editing it on my home computer.
Staff loved it, and awareness improved to 100% with usage increasing to 80% over the next 2 months. The video was awarded the Innovation in Education Prize by The British Thoracic Society and now has over 75,000 views.
When did you first realise that you are a health & care radical?
It was a long time after that video, when it started getting awards and attention from BBC, ITV, TIME magazine and so on. I realised this was something that people thought of as ‘innovative’. I never considered entertaining medical YouTube videos to be ground-braking – I suspect a teenager with a decent MacBook can make one nowadays, the NHS needs to get on board with it as a credible way of communicating with people!
What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?
It’s okay to sometimes not to follow what others do, but be aware making your own path is incredibly difficult, and I’m not sure if I will succeed in turning my ideas for further music videos into a successful vision, but I won’t get this opportunity again, so I won’t give up yet.
The NHS way of working doesn’t encourage you to question the world around you. It expects you to accept a sub-optimal way of working because ‘that’s how we always do things around here’ or ‘there is no money’. We need people who have the determination to make changes. If you have a good idea, have the courage to see it through…Unless it involves nakedness, in which case it’s probably not a good idea.
What is your favourite radical characteristic?
Imagination. Enthusiasm. Determination… and a bit of luck. Sorry that’s four things…
What is your favourite question?
I don’t think I have one. But I do like it when people say ‘there are no stupid questions’ it makes me immediately feel conformable with them.
What one clue tells you you’re affecting positive change?
Getting national attention from major organisations, awards, publications, good feedback from friends colleagues and patients all helps, but ultimately I think you know inside yourself if you’re doing the right thing.
What do you think it’s most important for people to understand about radicals?
They may appear to be a bit crazy. But remember Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.
What’s your one word piece of advice for radicals?
People might think you’re crazy for trying something new, bear this in mind when you’re asking them for money / help / advice / references. You need to show them why you are worth something in a way they find exciting, because not everyone will share your passion to try something new, and some people may go out of their way to stop you.
What’s your one word piece of advice for non-radicals?
These people don’t need advice, they’re happy to follow the well-travelled path that leads to a safe life and prestigious job. I am quite jealous of them.
Where do you think radicals are most needed today?
Where people have given up hope of changing things for the better.
Who is your favourite radical from the past 100 years?
I’m not sure he was a radical as such, but I thought the way Gandhi managed to take on the British Empire without weapons, and win was quite an achievement.
What’s the one thing you should never say to a radical?
You probably shouldn’t encourage them too much. No real work would get done otherwise. They need people to ground them every so often I reckon.
How do you rate yourself as a radical:
I’m not sure what the rating system is here. If the top achievement is a ‘free radical’ I would describe myself as ‘simmering’ at the moment. The next step would be ‘bubbling’, and then maybe ‘fizzing’, so I think I have a long way to go yet.
You can follow Tapas Mukherjee on twitter @321Tapas