As we celebrate Black History Month, Melanin Medics have had the privilege of interviewing some great individuals doing amazing things for the black community within the world of medicine. This week we had the pleasure of getting to know more about Dr Patrice Baptiste. Dr Baptiste founded a medical careers company in 2016 called Dream Smart Tutors and has a YouTube channel to support medics through their journey (aspiring medics, medical students and doctors).
Please kindly introduce yourself and what you do?
My name is Patrice and I am currently employed by my practice as a salaried GP, I work part-time and I have a number of roles alongside that. I started a Medical Careers company in 2016 called Dream Smart Tutors, and as well as that I am a GP tutor and an examiner for Queen Mary University and for the GMC. I also do some writing and I have recently had the opportunity to do some one-off pieces for Blue Stream Academy. Although it may look like a lot, thankfully they do not take up too much of my time and some of these roles are quite seasonal for example the examining, I can choose the days when I able to do them. I like this because it allows for flexibility and variety and allows me to enjoy doing them even more!
Tell me a bit more about your journey into medicine
From the age of 4 or 5 I always wanted to be a doctor, I don’t know if there was anything in particular that helped me make this decision but I think it was more of a combination of the things I saw growing up. My school wasn’t the greatest (but it wasn’t the worst), it was a comprehensive school and it wasn’t really equipped to support students that wanted to apply for competitive courses such as medicine. I have a very supportive family and luckily my dad worked in a private hospital and I was able to get work experience which helped my application stand out. My teachers were supportive, but at the same time I always had that focus, and I was sure that I was going to do medicine.
I got into University College London to do medicine, which is where it all began. I also did my BSc in Speech Science and Communication. So my journey into medicine was more of a linear path, however after medical school I went onto complete my foundation training and then took a gap year in the form of an F3 year. During this time I actually thought about leaving medicine. I took some time to think about my career in medicine and the reason why I did not want to continue with it. This was around the time of the change in the junior contracts and so I soon realised it wasn't me, it was the NHS. Once I discovered this I had to think about how I wanted my career to look. I then decided to become a GP.
What inspired you to start this initiative/project?
I am passionate about teaching, possibly due to the experiences I have had in the past from school to medical school. I have had good and bad teachers. I really never want students to feel nervous or embarrassed, this is not a conducive learning environment. I started volunteering at my old school and at other schools to help reviewing personal statements and doing some teaching. As I went through these experiences I realised there was a need for supportive services for young people who need research and advice into getting into medical school, which was also a part of the reason why I started my YouTube channel.
I also wanted to go back to all of the things that I enjoyed doing and one of those things was writing. I had written so many poems (and I have actually self-published a poetry book this year!) I submitted an article to GP online and they asked me to start writing for them.
What has been the most rewarding part of this project so far?
The most rewarding part is being able to help someone. As a GP, you get to treat people's issues and as you talk to them more you can dig deeper and find out there is so much more going on. Not only can we help in a pharmacological way but also a lot of the time psychologically as well. I just really enjoy seeing someone’s quality of life improve even from just a small adjustment.
So what does a typical week look like for you?
My typical week includes a combination of clinics and writing. I work two and a half days a week, and the rest of the time I can work on my own projects. I am working on a few books at the moment. Currently I am crocheting a blanket, I also do a bit of yoga and also of course my lesson planning.
How are you able to balance this with your work commitments?
I always rely on a to-do list. I prioritise and stagger my work and I will start on a project or assignment quite early on. For example if I have to do a presentation at the end of the month, I will start it early on in the month and just keep adding to it. I am not very good at doing things last minute and get quite anxious doing things under pressure, so spreading out my commitments works best for me.
Where do you see yourself and/or your project in the next 10 years?
My hope is that they would be more established. Even with my YouTube channel I have been doing some re-branding and hope that it is able to reach more people. I would also like to do more writing, more teaching and possibly a masters in Medical Education, since I enjoy teaching so much, it would be good to get a qualification in it. Since I've become a doctor and GP, I've achieved my main goals so I believe that everything else is a bonus!
What developments in medicine would you like to see in the next 10 years?
I would definitely like the system to listen to trainees and doctors more so that they feel more valued. I would like to see more opportunities for less than full-time training and job sharing. I feel this way they will be able to retain doctors more, as we know retention of doctors (especially middle grade doctors) is an issue in the UK. But we must stay positive!
If you have any advice for our current medical students and aspiring medics, what would it be?
Advice for current medics or aspiring medics, would be to think about what you enjoy and who you are as a person. Think about what kind of life you would want to have in the future. What are the practical things of the career that will draw you to it and be open minded. Another would be to stop worrying. It is so easy to say however not so easy to do. I remember at medical school I was always worrying about passing exams, worrying about publications, or what I would do over the summer. So looking back I can definitely say that I have let a lot of worries go.
What is the best way to support or get involved with your project?
Please subscribe to my YouTube channel called Dr. P. Baptiste. Check out the Dream Smart Tutors website and you can follow me on Instagram: @drbaptiste and LinkedIn: Dr Patrice Baptiste.
With thanks to Dr Patrice Baptiste for taking the time to chat to us, keep doing the amazing things you're doing!
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXn5IGCUVcH5sGIJZrtArUQ
LinkedIn: Dr Patrice Baptiste