2021-Top medic celebrates GCU honour

Top Scots medic hangs up her stethoscope but celebrates new honour

Mon, 09 Aug 2021 14:33:00 BST
President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Professor Jackie Taylor
President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Professor Jackie Taylor

As one of Scotland’s top consultant geriatricians hangs up her stethoscope for the last time, Professor Jackie Taylor reflects on happy times at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and being awarded an honorary degree.

Professor Taylor has just retired at the age of 60 after almost four decades in the NHS and 24 years at Glasgow’s oldest hospital - recently named as Scotland’s best - but she is still very much in the thick of it as President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Professor Taylor has been awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) for her outstanding contribution to Geriatric Medicine, dedication to improving health and well-being in the workplace and addressing workforce challenges within the NHS.

Professor Taylor MB ChB, FRCP, who is an Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow where she graduated from medical school, said it was a “great honour” to receive her honorary degree from GCU.

She added: “I am so thrilled and honoured to be awarded an honorary degree from Glasgow Caledonian University.

“I have worked with GCU for a number of years and have very strong links with the University. We have lots of areas of common interest and we will continue to see where we can work together to bring added value.

“Principal Professor Pamela Gillies in an Honorary Fellow of our College and I can now understand how she probably felt when she was getting her award a number years ago.”

Professor Taylor recalled the “fantastic day” she spent with her daughter Yvonne Thomson when she graduated in International Fashion Branding at GCU in 2019 and she is set to move to London to start a new career in fashion.

She also said she was keen to be involved in mentoring and coaching students at GCU in the future.

Professor Taylor explained: “What really chimes with me is the ethos of GCU. I am not someone who has come from a family of doctors. I came from a background where no-one in my family had been to university. 

“GCU’s whole ethos that these opportunities are for everyone and everyone has got the potential no matter what their background really resonates with me.

“I would love to be involved in some kind of mentoring or coaching at the University. I have always been a strong believer in peer support – giving people the tools and the confidence they need to enable them to reach their goals.”

She said COVID-19 had no bearing on her decision to retire from the Department of Medicine for the Elderly because she had planned to bow out before the pandemic but decided to stay on another year to do her bit. She hopes to be invited back next year to do out-patient work.

“This is a time of reflection but I am trying not to dwell on it too much. I see it as the start of a new chapter in my life and I’m excited about it. It’s very difficult though when your personal identity has been with your stethoscope in your hand for 38 years. Most of my consulting career has been at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and I wouldn’t want to have worked anywhere else, I’ve had a really happy time,” she said.

Speaking fondly about her patients, Professor Taylor added: “I will certainly miss my patients from the East End of Glasgow who are like no other patients. I have met some great characters over the years and I will miss their humour in particular.

“They have a real quirky sense of humour and are able to make light of difficult situations. It’s a huge privilege that they placed such incredible trust on me to do the right thing.

“Everything we do is about shared decision making but sometimes patients will ask you what you think or what they should do and all you have to do in that situation is put yourself in their shoes and imagine what would I do if this was my mother or father.

“I’ve loved working at Glasgow Royal. It’s a hospital that’s managed to retain that sense of community. I will of course also miss my colleagues, there has been such a sense of teamwork within our unit for as long as I can remember.”

Professor Taylor said her future challenges as President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow is to focus on the wellbeing of healthcare staff struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder systems as a result COVID-19 as well as boosting the equality, diversity and inclusivity agenda.

“We are at the start of a long journey and one of the big things for healthcare in the next few years is how we mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare inequalities and look after the wellbeing of the staff.”