• Series of online seminars and workshops to help medics facing COVID-19
  • Doctors wanted to pass on knowledge from MBA to colleagues
  • Talks and seminars are helping hospitals build much-needed resilience
  • Lessons on leadership also vital as pandemic stretches resources

Three Warwick Business School MBA students have set up a programme of free weekly online seminars for healthcare workers across the world to help them cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Doctors Ali Mehdi (pictured) and Mathew Sewell plus dentist Omo Akoje Okonkwo, who are all studying the Executive MBA, wanted to pass on the knowledge from their course to help medics lead themselves and their teams during the unprecedented crisis that has put extreme pressure on healthcare systems across the world. They have been supported by Vivek Srivastava, Cardiothoracic Surgeon from Oxford.

Healthcare workers have not only faced the suffering of COVID-19 patients and dealing with thousands of deaths from the pandemic, but also the danger of contracting the virus themselves while working long draining shifts wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).

Ali, who has been a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon for the last 13 years at NHS Borders in Scotland, and Mathew, a Paediatric and Adult Spinal Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust, have organised weekly hour-long, interactive online sessions for frontline healthcare workers on topics ranging from ‘Staying resilient and high performing teams’ and ‘Transformational leadership in a crisis’ to ‘Patient service in a crisis’ and ‘Understanding your personality and that of your team’.

It's good to talk: The online workshops attract up to 100 medics each week

Ali said: “This series of programmes has enabled me to become resilient and go beyond fear to learn and grow. This is in an environment at work of deep uncertainties from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the dynamics caused by varying stress behaviours influencing communications and processes. 

“I was motivated by the need to help medics in all roles to be resilient and lead during the coronavirus crisis by sharing the learning at WBS through the network developed from it.

“It felt important to promote an understanding of one's self and the environment that we function in to be able to deal with it, rather than just cope, which is the traditional approach.”

Between 50 and 100 healthcare workers have been logging on for the workshops each week, which see an expert give a talk on each topic before a Q&A.

Experts have come from Warwick Business School, Oxford Brookes Business School, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Improvement alongside senior military officers and sports scientists. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has even accredited the workshops for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.

Ali said: “The feedback has been consistently positive. Eventually we would be keen that our initiative is supported to become an open channel to support enhanced resilience, communication, collaboration and responsible leadership for all in healthcare.”

Mathew added: “Working through this is not going be a sprint with an end in sight. We, the workforce are the most critical resource. We are all leaders, don’t underestimate the power every healthcare worker has to lead through this change.

“In this ultra-marathon how do we reduce the risk of burnout, enhance our collective performance and use this as an opportunity to establish the future we want beyond this pandemic through our collective leadership?

“We require everybody’s wisdom to help us all through this crisis and emerge stronger.”

To listen to the latest talk on June 10 at 6pm from Mathew Sewell on 'Resilience leadership. Leading in Crisis - The Nightingale Experience' and Nicola Burgess, Associate Professor of Operations Management at Warwick Business School, on 'Involving People in Quality Improvement – Experience from the NHS-Virginia Mason Institute partnership' click the Zoom link here

Visit the YouTube channel to see past talks or email ali.mehdi@warwick.ac.uk to join the emailing list.