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Professor Deborah Bowman shares her personal experience of joining Council

2 June 2021

By Professor Deborah Bowman (view more by this author)
Deborah is a GOsC lay member of Council and Chair of the Policy and Education Committee.

Deborah Bowman shares her first impressions and personal experience of joining the GOsC’s Council.

In February 2020, I walked across the Thames over Tower Bridge towards Osteopathy House where I had an interview to become a lay member of Council. London looked glorious on that cold, but sunny day. I found the people (now colleagues) who greeted me at Osteopathy House to be thoughtful, committed and welcoming. It was clear that this was a time of development for the organisation which had priorities that resonated, such as communication, inclusion and public engagement. I left unsure how I had performed at the interview but impressed by what I had seen.

In March 2020, I was unwell and confined to my bedroom. The world had spun on its axis and we were in lockdown. I was perhaps one of the early few who had caught COVID-19 but without easy access to a test at the time I can’t be certain. But I do know that I was far from myself when the email arrived confirming my appointment as a lay member of Council. I had an early exchange with the Chair and Chief Executive who demonstrated the values that, in my experience, underpin the way the Council works. They were compassionate and clear, urging me not to rush into taking up my new role and updating me about what was happening as the organisation adapted to the crisis.

I was fortunate to make a good recovery and, following a thorough induction, I began my tenure as Chair of the Policy and Education Committee on 4 May. A week later, I attended my inaugural Council meeting.

Leading the Policy and Education Committee has been fascinating. I have spent most of my career working in ethics, education and professional standards, but every organisation has a distinct approach. There was much to observe and to learn in my role as Chair. When I was out on one of my slow runs, I’d think about our work. For example, I’d reflect on the way the Committee functioned, how expectations are perceived and interpreted, the nature of relationships and engagement with the profession.

I think I can speak for all members of the Policy and Education Committee in acknowledging the achievement of osteopathic educational providers and, of course, the osteopaths who work in those institutions, as they adapted to the extraordinary demands of the pandemic. The commitment shown to student progression and the public interest has been phenomenal.

There is much to learn from the past year as we reflect on those adaptations within our wider work, for example, the development of the new General Osteopathic Pre-registration Standards for Education, for which the public consultation is about to launch.

We increasingly make space for discussions about the landscape within which osteopaths are trained and practise, a landscape that has now been changed significantly by COVID-19. Making time to discuss the role of osteopathy within society has been a priority for me. I am committed to ensuring we sometimes step back from the cycle of reporting, important as that is, to think about our role in a system and how osteopathy can flourish in context.

I would love to see anyone – osteopath, patient or the simply curious – join us at a Council meeting

I return to those first impressions at Osteopathy House when I attended for interview. In my experience of both Council and the Policy and Education Committee, whatever the subject, discussions are rigorous, inclusive, thoughtful and open. I am proud to be part of the team.

I end with an invitation. We rarely have observers at our public Council meetings and that always seems to me to be a shame. I have learned a lot from being on different Boards, but I have also learned much from observing them too across all sectors and professions. I would love to see anyone – osteopath, patient or the simply curious – join us at a Council meeting. You would be most welcome.

I hope to see you online or even at Osteopathy House soon. Do say hello.

Please email council@osteopathy.org.uk for more information about when GOsC Council will next meet and how to attend.

Read more about Professor Deborah Bowman