A foundation doctor who worked at one of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s inpatient units and who is championing equality and diversity in medical careers is up for a prestigious psychiatry award.

Dr Jess Speller, who completed a four-month rotation at LPT’s Bradgate Mental Health Unit, is in the running for Foundation Doctor of the Year at the Royal College of Psychiatrists RC Psych Awards, after being nominated by LPT’s consultant psychiatrist and honorary associate professor, Dr Mohammed Abbas.

Dr Speller began working at the unit in December 2022 until April 2023. When she qualified as a doctor, Jess broke her back as a result of osteoporosis, and also suffers with severe asthma and an immune deficiency. Despite this, she excelled in her role, has taken part in online teaching in the TeachMeSeries and Geeky Medics and is in the process of setting up a national support network for medics with health problems and a local disability action group with Leicester Medical School.

Within his nomination, Dr Abbas, Jess’ clinical supervisor, said: “Despite significant physical health disabilities, and the very early phase of her medical career, Jessica’s contribution to medicine is already significant.  Her commitment to the profession and patient care despite her physical disabilities is very heart-warming and commendable.

“She is very hard working, conscientious, very accessible, and an excellent team member. She advocates for her patients. She has reflected on her own experience of healthcare and uses this to take a holistic approach to her patients.”

Dr Speller, who says she wants her career to involve her specialising in mental health treatment, said: “I really enjoyed my placement at the Bradgate Unit. It was one of my favourite placements because of the lovely ward team and patients.

“I found it so interesting, and it was a completely different experience to my other rotations. It felt like you had more time to support patients holistically and it was satisfying seeing patients make huge improvements with the support of colleagues and the management plans we put together. I was so pleased and honoured to be nominated for the award.”

Dr Speller is passionate about making medical careers more accessible. She added: “It is so reassuring to see changes and adaptions happening in the field. Now there are so many more support networks and there are more people working with disabilities. It can be challenging but change is happening.

“If anyone is thinking about a medical career with a disability, please go for it. You will be supported and you can make a difference to people’s lives. It is so worth it.”

Dr Speller, who is currently in her second foundation year and working at University Hospitals Leicester in the specialist neuro-rehabilitation unit, will find out if she has won the award at the ceremony, which takes on Wednesday 8 November.