The Coming of Age of AHPs in a Post Pandemic World by Carolyn McDonald, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer @Carolyncahpo

The Coming of Age of AHPs in a Post Pandemic World by Carolyn McDonald, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer.

And so another year is over and we are all a little older and a little more worn out by the pandemic but did you know that we have an amazing reason to celebrate in Scotland across the Allied Health Professions in 2022?

We celebrate our coming of age!

21 years of being a collective group of AHPs in Scotland. This is a tremendous milestone and a chance to revisit our achievements and evolution over the past 2 decades. It is extraordinary to think how our services have grown and developed over that time.

We are the third largest clinical workforce, made up of 14 professions who assess, diagnose, treat, discharge and signpost patients onwards across health, social care, housing, education, prison services, third and independent sectors.

Celebrating any milestone might beg the question – why is it important, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. It might conjure up thoughts of who cares except us? And there may be a point where you think why bother?

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Our coming of age can be an incredible opportunity not just for reflection but for sharing who we are, reaching out to those who connect with our journey, whether they be part of our multidisciplinary and multiagency teams across all sectors of the workforce, those who use our services, or for those who will follow in our footsteps, our future workforce, our students.

I am inviting any reader of this blog, AHP, friend or colleague to shift your lens to focus on celebrating, and acknowledging progress and advancement of our allied health professionals.

Often when celebrating a milestone, there are a lot of “remember when..” conversations, I attended a fair few virtual retirements last year where a healthy dose of nostalgia was shared – sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing but always memorable. In June this year I’ll hopefully be in Dublin marking my own milestone by meeting up with colleagues to celebrate 40 years of commencing our training and I’m quite sure that there will be many stories shared and achievements acknowledged.

And so it got me thinking about the ancient art form of Storytelling.

Storytelling is an integral part of Scottish (and Irish) culture and heritage. Rich and vivid tales passed on orally for centuries with listeners being important for the engagement they bring, shaping the storytellers narrative with the questions and opinions they generate.

And the tradition has undergone something of a revival in recent years. At the 2021 Scottish International Storytelling Festival participants were invited to “delve into different pasts, futures or the timeless present, to challenge what we know and create the images of what we are yet to discover”.

Stories continue to be the flame that keep the fire burning for all of us who are passionate about setting out our roadmap for the next decade, rethinking new models of care and working in new ways with a keen eye on equitable and sustainable health and social care delivery with AHPs considered as core.

I hope that in 2022 as part of our Coming of Age celebrations that we will hear inspirational stories from our AHPs and from our students about what excites them for the decade ahead. And I invite our non-AHP friends and colleagues to do likewise.

Storytelling will be around for so much longer than a 21st birthday cake or any celebratory event. Stories have the potential to preserve records for generations and we all have a duty to lead in sharing our stories – it can be anything informal such as taking a few minutes to have a conversation with a colleague or it could be a blog for @AHPScot or a video to upload.

Stories reinvigorate and reconnect us to our core values. By sharing our stories we ignite that flame in the generations who will follow as we pass on the baton and they drive us into the future.

So please be a seanchaidh* or seanchaí* and share your stories in 2022.

*Gaelic and Irish for storyteller


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