Finalpush; 7 steps for planning a new project
Toby Shipway and Lauren Simmonds
Anaesthetic Registrars, Severn Deanery
Passing the Final FRCA SOE exam in May 2018 was a watershed moment. On reflecting with friends and colleagues who had gone through the examination process, and working so hard to get to this point, stories emerged of celebratory revision note pyres, files banished to attics or simply being thrown away – the principal feeling was an immediate need for euphoric escapism from the FRCA Final exam. With bin at the ready, it dawned that all this work could be the basis of a fantastic resource. This idea coupled with a desire to learn computer coding led to finalpush.co.uk. I approached Lauren, as someone who had recently gone through the exam process and had been a key support when revising. After a couple of meetings, it became obvious she saw potential in the idea and understood its role. This made the process much easier and exciting; it has been the backbone that has sustained the project since.
This is a brief overview of the steps that got us through the process.
With any project you will need support – this might just be someone to bounce ideas off or someone to help build the project. If the project is large enough it may mean recruiting and organising a team. It is often difficult to scale an idea at the outset so be flexible and realistic.
Planning. It is important to have a plan for the project but be aware that it can be difficult to see its whole scope from the outset. What is the aim of the project? Who are the audience? What was the gap that you wanted to fill when thinking up the idea? These are all quite complex questions but make life simple and distil the idea to its core constituents. The initial part of planning was split – one part on how we were going to set out the information and link the syllabus, secondly on what coding format was required to get the best out of the information.
Teamwork. Initially in the planning stages we both took on several overlapping roles. As the project matured, our roles became a little more concise and complementary. It also became clear we needed help and support, so we drafted a group of people to help. Looking after and keeping a busy team of doctors focussed on something away from their own lives and jobs is a real skill. It needs time, patience, understanding and occasionally a firm prod.
Funding. Always a tricky issue – there are multiple funding pools available. Postgraduate medical services, in each hospital, are a helpful resource. There are national and regional pots, which will have clear guidelines on the type of project they will support. We were offered a HEE Innovation bursary but turned it down when it became apparent we wouldn’t control how the end result would appear, function or work on the terms put forward. There are also Business Hubs around the country designed to help start-ups, giving free input and advice (have a look at respective websites).
More detail; we decided to use a mixture of free online resources to get background code, but then build a bespoke platform to enable the site to function as we wanted. Working on mobiles, tablets and desktop format was crucial to make the content portable and usable. We utilised jQuery Mobile and Bootstrap for the main parts of the site, as it had the core structure and graphics to make the site functional and attractive. It also meant the site could be coded without reliance on a third party.
Keep going. There will always be times when it all seems like a series of mountains in front of you but as each one is peaked, you’re a step closer. Keep smiling, keep supporting, keep perspective, ask for advice. There are always channels to get more information, this site being a useful new resource. Remember to keep going!
FinalPush will be on general release Summer 2020