Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Compassionate leadership during COVID-19: an ABC approach to the introduction of new medical graduates as Foundation interim Year 1s (FiY1s)
  1. Claire Dougan,
  2. Sally-Anne Philips,
  3. Denise Hughes,
  4. Keith Gardiner
  1. Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency, Belfast, County Antrim, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claire Dougan, Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency, Belfast BT60NT, County Antrim, UK; cdougan06{at}


Background Increasingly challenging workplaces detrimentally affect doctors’ well-being and patient care. The General Medical Council’s ‘ABC’ compassionate leadership model aims to improve doctor well-being. When COVID-19 emerged, a 4 Nation agreement facilitated early graduation and provisional registration of final year medical students and deployment of new graduates into Foundation interim Year 1 (FiY1) positions. We report how the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA) applied compassionate leadership to the induction of FiY1s.

Methods Employing ‘What matters to you’, we identified FiY1s’ educational objectives and reviewed information dissemination options within distancing restrictions.

A dedicated FiY1 webpage summarised requirements and resources. A regional digital induction with a well-being emphasis facilitated flexible completion. Welcome packs promoted belonging while a ‘buddy system’ delivered support. Collaboration with other stakeholders created staggered follow-up video conferences providing practical and psychological support, removing communication barriers.

Findings Feedback showed high FiY1 satisfaction with the global introduction to practice (83%) and 82% felt valued by NIMDTA and by Trusts after process completion.

Conclusion Applying compassionate leadership to induction creates positive effects on doctors’ feeling of value and aligns with organisational strategic aims to support, develop and retain doctors in training programmes. We envision this model being applied to future postgraduate induction programmes.

  • medical leadership
  • value
  • trainees
  • engagement
  • doctor

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors All authors contributed to the design of the work and the acquisition of data. CD designed and wrote the paper. S-AP, DH and KG revised for important intellectual content and approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.