I applied for the programme to continue my professional development; in particular I wanted to build upon prior management and leadership training to deliver more complex change projects within the NHS, and to widen my opportunities for progression. I also felt that, having completed vocational courses rather than a formal degree, I had missed out on university study and I wanted to challenge myself academically.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, my employer at the time, offered a range of management and leadership development opportunities through their Organisational Development (OD) team. I was fortunate enough to be supported by my team, Healthy Lifestyles, to attend two separate programmes over the course of two years.
At the end of the second programme I discussed potential next steps with the OD team and was pointed towards the NHS South West Leadership Academy. Following an impromptu request for guidance, Christina Quinn, the Leadership Academy’s Director, was kind enough to meet with me to discuss my personal and professional aspirations.
After our conversation I was energised to apply for the PG Cert in Healthcare Management, Leadership & Innovation sponsored by the Leadership Academy.
I was fortunate enough to be approved for entry and funding, and the programme began in September 2016.
The course aims to support the development of the skills required to lead change and improvement across the healthcare system. It covers salient subjects including systems leadership, ethical decision-making, healthcare improvement, open systems innovation, change management and a range of other topics. The programme content is contemporary and relevant in light of the diverse and severe pressures facing the healthcare system.
The students on the course come from a variety of healthcare backgrounds; medical students, nurses, managers, consultants and commissioners all study together. The peer learning is invaluable, and I now have a much greater insight into the different challenges faced by colleagues working across the system.
I’ve been challenged academically whilst studying a range of topics, and I’ve developed a better understanding of how to critique evidence and structure arguments. As well as gaining new knowledge, the lecturers and guest speakers have reinvigorated my desire to deliver sustainable change and improvement within the NHS.
As I’ve developed an understanding of systems leadership and change management I’ve been enabled to deliver a range of innovation projects with the Healthy Lifestyles team; by building partnerships with Exeter University, Torquay United Football Club, and international app developers, we have recently developed a diabetes education app that supports a greater number of patients to self-care, and a men’s weight management programme that encourages access for an underrepresented population group.
Not only has the programme supported my leadership development and the delivery of projects, it has had a fundamental impact on my life; I was recently successful in gaining a position at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust as Service Development Lead. Before embarking on the PG Cert I wouldn’t have met the essential postgraduate experience required to apply for the role.
The Healthy Lifestyles Team and Torbay and South Devon’s OD team offered me the opportunities and support to develop foundational management and leadership skills. The South West Leadership Academy have offered further professional development and study, and the lecturers at Plymouth University have been supportive, academically challenging and truly interested in the development of their students.
I am incredibly grateful for these opportunities and will be pursuing further academic study and professional development. I hope that I can repay this support by delivering improvements and innovation at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and across the wider healthcare system.
I would wholeheartedly encourage those considering the PG Cert in Healthcare Management, Leadership and Innovation to apply. The course content is insightful and valuable for anyone working in, or aspiring to lead across, the healthcare system. The lecturers are experts in their fields and the opportunity to take the time to learn with colleagues is invaluable.