image description

National Deanery Career Management support for Doctors

Responding to improvements in managing medical careers a number of deaneries including West and East Midlands, North West, Severn and South West approached Windmills to help them develop an interactive and engaging workshop for Doctors choosing their specialties.

East Midlands Deanery was the first to approach Windmills back in 2004, eight years on, the team now describe Windmills as ‘part of the organisational structure’.

nhs east midlands


Policy change to how Doctors careers are structured has caused Health Deaneries to respond to the “Managing Medical Careers” initiative and review how they are supporting their Foundation Doctors to choose their speciality.

At a critical decision point in their career Doctors need to consider the skills they have, the preferences for specialty choice, the availability of training places for consultant within these specialties and the experience and accompanying portfolio they have to succeed in securing the position they aspire to.

How could the Deanery support Doctors to do this in a creative and engaging way for a client group who were severely time restricted amongst their clinical timetable?


The team at East Midlands were enthusiastic and keen to utilise a new set of tools for a new and challenging client group. To get very busy Doctors who, on the whole feel they know the type of career they wish to go into, to take a step back and really think about the type of medicine they wish to focus on is a real challenge.

Collaboratively Windmills designed an engaging and interactive day and piloted this with foundation doctors, clinical educators, consultants and careers professionals within the Deanery. Refining the workshop and developing the tools to reflect the needs of the Doctors resulted in a career management skills programme for junior doctors.

“We thought a lot of what we had seen with Windmills would complement what we were trying to achieve and would help the Doctors make some informed decisions about their career direction.” explains Charlene Binding, Head of Career Development at East Midlands Deanery.

Developing a group of 10 Champions within the Deanery allowed them to have flexibility to respond to the demand of offering 280 places per year. The Champions were selected from a range of career and development professionals as well as clinical educators and tutors thereby offering the Foundation Doctors the best of both worlds.

Click here to hear from Lynsey Lowe, one of the Champions from East Midlands says about Windmills


Within three years East Midlands Deanery were offering elements of the Windmills portfolio to just under 1,000 doctors.

The team at the Deanery were so impressed by what they saw, that they started using the portfolio for other offerings, from a course for those considering a career outside medicine to a specialised course for Leicester Medical School.

Windmills also helped to support doctors when the started running a Doctors in Difficulty course, which aims to help people who might be considering a change in career or who might need someone to discuss their experiences with. Again, the Windmills portfolio was used to offer further support.

Click here to take a look at East Midlands Report on their work

More recently, Windmills Co-Director Helen Wakefield has worked with GPs from Malta, teaching them how to use the Champions model to coach their colleagues.

Charlene Binding Head of Career Development says: “We used Windmills for some work we have done for the Maltese Health System to help them create a stronger sustainability model and as a result the team there wished to use it to support their own Doctors within their training and choice for speciality.”

Charlene’s views are also backed up by the Post Graduate Dean Director at East Midlands who says….

“The Windmills approach has enabled East Midlands Healthcare Workforce Deanery to offer an inspiring step in this development area, which has already received excellent feedback from Foundation doctors and educators supporting them in their career development.  We see Windmills as a best practice, flexible, sustainable and cost-effective approach that we can continue to adapt, tailor and integrate in the region.”

David Snowden – Postgraduate Dean Director, East Midlands Healthcare Workforce Deanery


Further development of the original licence has continued to grow with the Deanery now beginning to look creatively at working with some of their apprentices too.

And the East Midlands Deanery team are emphatic about the difference that Windmills has made.

“Windmills has helped not just the individuals they have worked with, but also the organisation and the community as a whole,” says Charlene.

“Often individuals don’t know how to go about learning how to handle their career, so it gives them a clear structure and some thought-provoking tales. Because of the experience they have had with Windmills, they are able to make informed choices. One woman was hell-bent on doing public health as a career but when she did the skills exercise it meant her re-thinking everything.

“On an organisational level, we have been able to use an off-the-shelf product in different and flexible ways.

“It has also benefited the community in that a large number of doctors have been through this programme now, and we are giving them the tools they need to plan their career – which can only benefit the community.

“We thoroughly enjoy working with the Windmills team, and the flexibility of the products means the portfolio has now become part of our organisational structure.”

Here is what one Doctor said about the course they had been on…..

“Extremely useful – it has made me think about what I want out of my career and how this fits in with what I want out of life.  Communicating with other people on the course makes me realise that I am not the only one who is uncertain about my future and career projection.  I now feel happier in my career aspirations – more confident that my chosen speciality is right for me as it suits my personality.  The session woke me up from my laziness!”