A Day in the Life of a CE: Aoife Molloy


Aoife Molloy (@DrAoifeMolloy)
Senior Clinical Advisor, Healthcare Inequalities Improvement, NHS England
Consultant in infectious diseases and general internal medicine, Royal Free Hospital associate editor & social media editor, BMJ Leader
United Kingdom

Aoife Molloy, MB BCh BAO BA MRCP DTM&H DipHIV MScPH, is a consultant in infectious diseases and general internal medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in the United Kingdom. She is also a Senior Clinical Advisor for Healthcare Inequalities Improvement at NHS England and an associate editor and social media editor at BMJ Leader. Her interests revolve around education and development of emerging clinician leaders, implementation of best available evidence and measurement of improvement in healthcare systems.

She completed her medical studies in Dublin, at Trinity College, becoming a member of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Ireland and England, before moving to the UK to pursue specialty training in acute internal medicine and infectious diseases. She was a National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2014/15 and set up the Collaboration for Shared Decision Making. She holds a diploma in HIV and Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a master’s degree in public health and is currently completing her PhD at Imperial College Patient Safety Translational Research Centre.

Using data to inspire change

Dr Molloy’s passion for medical justice and equality in healthcare access, experience, and outcomes can clearly be seen throughout her career. The NHS system she works in provides free services for all at the point-of- care, underpinned by policy, commissioning and governance. She was a policy associate at the Health Foundation and wrote “A Clear Road Ahead, a quality strategy for the NHS in England” with Professor Sheila Leatherman. She was also the Clinical Lead for the Evidence Based Interventions Program at NHS England, a program focused on value-based healthcare, and which publishes statutory guidance and supported clinical, commissioner, and patient leadership to ensure that procedures offered by the NHS are the most appropriate. She also worked with The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to develop the first recommendations for Choosing Wisely UK and with Positively UK to develop the first national standards for peer support in HIV.  

In her role as a senior clinical advisor for healthcare inequalities improvement, she works on putting the national strategic priorities of Core20PLUS5 into place through clinical leadership and development, evidence generation, implementation, and measurement of improvement. Core 20 are the twenty percent of the population that are most deprived, and the PLUS population are those that are at risk of or are already experiencing healthcare inequalities. It is her believe that we can make a difference in narrowing the gap on inequalities through collaborative leadership. She describes herself as “a stickler for putting evidence in to practice and using data to inspire change”.

Finding joy in a variety of roles

Aiofe distributes her time between clinical and non-clinical responsibilities, sharing: “I work roughly half clinical, half policy, half research, health education and training. I know that makes two people’s roles, but I work best when I’m busy!” She revels in the challenge of collaborative leadership and improvement in complex health systems, as well as having a role that is split between national health policy and direct patient care. She likes the holistic approach and the big picture of general medicine alongside the details of history taking and appropriate antimicrobial therapies in infectious diseases. She says what really drives her is the interplay between society, psychology, and health, elaborating: “I believe healthcare should be healing, nurturing, and empowering. I’m constantly striving to be a better doctor. I think times have changed and we need a better balance of power between patients and doctors, but I am conscious of how vulnerable one can feel as a patient or one who cares for a patient”. 

Aoife occasionally worries she might have travelled ‘too far’ from the beaten track, and credits clinical practice as a grounding experience for her. It reminds her that everything she is doing is to make a difference to patients and families.

Learning to manage her time – rather than her to do list

Because she started building her professional portfolio very early in her career, it worked out well with her family life. “When my daughters were very young, I enjoyed the flexibility (and lack of night shifts!) in policy and research” As a young medic, Aoife enjoyed being saturated in clinical medicine and learnt so much as an apprentice to so many inspiring physicians. “It is certainly a juggle”, she says, “but I am learning to manage my time rather than manage my to-do list. I try to make sure I set aside time for me, time for my family, time for work and research.”

Now, she has finally carved out the career that she has always wanted and finds a “massive joy” in the diversity of her work. “I really love the intimacy of patient care, but I also love to make changes at a system level.” She concludes, “I have taken the scenic route, but each turn has been more invigorating than the last – I wouldn’t change it for anything!”

Three tips for junior CEs: avoid self-righteousness, remain in control of your own behaviour and, don’t compete – collaborate!

  1. Try not to be self-righteous, don’t expect rewards, prestige, recognition. We are all here but for a moment. Do the best with what you have got. Or as my children say, “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset”.
  2. There is room for us all. We are much stronger when we work together – not competing but collaborating. We take turns leading. Always try to work around hierarchies with kindness, for example be friendly to your boss, and don’t moan to your juniors.
  3. People will remember how you made them feel as Maya Angelou once said. I really believe that no matter how others behave there is no justification for bad behavior in response.  Always remain steadfastly in control of your own behavior. This doesn’t mean you can’t have feelings, reactions, opinions, crushing emotions… I mean you should try to react with poise, kindness, and patience.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. For more details on our site disclaimers, please see our ‘About’ page