Featured Doctor

WASS, Prof Val

UK: Family doctor - OBE recipient

In the 2015 New Year Honours list Prof Val Wass was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to medical education. Here we learn a little more about our honoured colleague.

What work do you do currently?

I am currently Head of Keele University School of Medicine in the West Midlands, UK; a new medical school placed in a region where there are high levels of health deprivation. We have a new curriculum designed to train excellent clinicians who we hope will stay to work in the region.

Previously I worked at Manchester Medical School as Professor of Community Based Medical education (2003-2009) and Guy’s, Kings and St Thomas’ Medical School (1995-2003) in the Academic department of Primary Care) alongside my clinical work in General Practice.

I find myself as a relative rarity within the UK Medical School Council (MSC) of 34 deans where there are only two women and only two are GPs! I am therefore delighted to be active member of the MSC as an elected member of the Executive and I chair the MSC education committee. I am also the nationally elected chair of the UK MSC Assessment Alliance of all 34 medical schools who now work to develop shared assessment questions and methodologies.

Assessment is my area of academic expertise. My PhD in Maastricht Netherlands centred on assessment methodology. My research, which also encompasses cultural diversity within medical training, professionalism and the development of health care education to meet the needs of globalisation, has been widely cited.

What other interesting activities that you have been involved in?

I chair the RCGP International committee and work with the college International department to deliver the ten year international strategy. This can be challenging but I am delighted to contribute to moving the global primary care agenda forward with WONCA. Education is vital. I am a member of the WONCA Working Party on Education and Editor of Education for Primary Care; an official journal of WONCA. I have very much enjoyed working on developing professionalism and championing the holistic compassionate values of primary care. I was privileged to be on the working group for the Royal College of Physicians report: Doctors in Society: Medical Professionalism in a Changing World and an international group looking at the assessment of professionalism.

I have been fortunate enough to receive some prestigious awards; a National Teaching Fellowship (2008), the Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) President’s international medal (2014) and the 2015 Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) Gold medal. I became an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s New Year honours list in 2015 for services to medical education.

What have been some of the more memorable places you have been with RCGP international?

Over the years I have carried out consultancies in over 20 countries. I am truly proud of the South Asia family medicine team in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who have developed a strong collaboration to deliver a joint assessment for family medicine doctors accredited for MRCGP[International]. As RCGP International Development Advisor for this project I have so many fond memories of visits to these countries, the political ups and downs but above all the amazing motivation, intellect and determination to succeed at a very high level despite some extreme challenges.

My friendships in Egypt and work over the years, both undergraduate and postgraduate in Mansoura and Cairo, have always been inspiring and I reflect with deep sadness on their current great difficulties.

Working with family physicians in Thailand is always memorable supported by the warm hospitality and friendship of Garth Manning and Monica Burns (WONCA CEO and his wife).

I carry many fond memories of the Middle East particularly with the Kuwait Institute for Medical Specialisation (KIMS) where tremendous progress has been made with Family Medicine training.

I could go on but, finally, I remember fondly the laughter and fun of assessment workshops with medical schools across the West Indies.

What are your interests as a family physician and also outside work?

Family life is of paramount importance. I enjoy cooking, gardening and all aspects of entertaining in my lively London home. Yoga is intrinsic to my relaxation and concentration as is playing the piano, the opera, theatre art and reading. I have travelled widely and continue to enjoy exploring new territories I particularly love the vibrant energy of South Asia and the wild expanses and beautiful light of Africa and South America which provide excellent fodder to my passion for photography. I am fortunate to speak French, Italian and German fairly fluently and rudimentary Spanish all of which have proved useful professionally and personally.

As my friends say I am a “people” person who fully enjoys the diversity of life.

Val Wass OBE