Trainee Profile: Gwen Ellis
Gwenan (Gwen) Ellis, final year Sheffield Hallam University student, is studying a BSC in Healthcare Science with a special interest in Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Sleep Science. Gwen has been studying this degree as part of an apprenticeship scheme working for Rotherham Hospital in Respiratory Physiology. We caught up with Gwen to find out more about her positive views about the transformation work of the Integrated Care System, her work experience in a busy South Yorkshire hospital and a ‘light-bulb’ moment that sparked her interest in pursuing a career in Healthcare Science.
Thanks for joining us Gwen. Could you tell us about your degree programme and where you are currently taking your apprenticeship?
I have worked there for 12 years. My apprenticeship placement is at Rotherham General Hospital and I have been lucky that all the clinical competencies needed for my degree could be completed at the one site in Rotherham.
It sounds like you’ve learnt a lot from working at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust. Could you tell me the route of study and training you are undertaking?
Prior to this apprenticeship degree I had built my professional qualifications from in house training and attending Professional body courses. I had not completed any academic studies, as such, for over 20 years, so it was quite daunting to go back to studying after such a long break!
I knew that my experience and knowledge of working within the healthcare science field would be of benefit in completing the degree. I had previously completed my Level 3 NVQ while working in Respiratory Physiology and started this degree on a Level 4.
The level 6 Healthcare Science degree will enable me to qualify as a Respiratory Physiologist - it’s very exciting.
What areas of study are you finding the most interesting and applicable in your training so far?
In year 1 of the degree I was taught cardiology modules/ clinical competencies that I found very interesting as I had minimal knowledge of cardiology.
The most interesting module that I have completed was the Healthcare Science in Context module and the Research module. I had very little exposure to journal or research papers prior to starting this degree, but have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and enjoyment from reading current journal papers. I will continue to refer to current research in my job role.
The Sleep Science module has enabled my Professional Practice to flourish when treating patients who have Sleep Disordered breathing disorders. I plan to concentrate on expanding my knowledge and experience in this part of my job role.
That sounds really interesting. So what did you initially find daunting but are now finding much easier (and enjoyable) as a result of your ongoing career development?
The whole idea of studying academia was daunting to me due to the long break from it! In year 1 my personal goal was to pass the modules and gain understanding of not only the subject modules but to learn how to write scientifically.
The Healthcare Science in Context module leader inspired me to write in a more academic/scientific fashion - and she directed me in how to source/find the scientific information I needed to write my assignments and portfolios.
In year 3 it was almost like a light bulb moment, by continually researching and reading journal papers of the respiratory field, and it just clicked how to write high standard assignments. I look back at my year 1 work and compare it to my year 3 work and I am surprised how much I have learnt and improved in my understanding of HealthCare Science.
Why is healthcare science so important to health and care in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw?
I think Healthcare Science is important in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to improve the quality of care given to the patient and to enhance patient outcomes. Patient focused care is promoted in the healthcare science field. Healthcare scientists adhere to professional standards set by the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) to certify good scientific practice of care. Innovative technology and scientific advances advocate the need to include healthcare science in patient care and healthcare scientists’ up to date knowledge and competencies will deliver consistency, validity, and accuracy in diagnostics.
What is your future career aspiration?
My future career aspirations are to qualify as a competent, experienced respiratory physiologist. I plan to expand my role by attending further professional courses and qualify in more advanced/specialist diagnostic roles. I would like to gain more experience in leadership and gain leadership qualifications to enable me to become a highly specialist Respiratory Physiologist and manage a great team of healthcare scientists.
What advice do you have for fellow learners thinking of studying healthcare science?
My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship degree in healthcare science is to build up your professional development portfolio by attending any courses and lectures that expose you to various fields in healthcare. Experience in healthcare will be an added advantage in completing the course.
If you haven’t complete academic studies for a while don’t let this put you off because the support that you receive from the university, tutors, work based supervisors and your work place will be paramount - and will help you through the course.
Finally, what do you think of the work the Integrated Care System (ICS) is doing to promote the careers of healthcare scientists – and what could we do to raise awareness and interest in healthcare science professions?
The work of the ICS is paramount to ensure that we work as part of a multidisciplinary team, to deliver patient-centred care and positive outcomes for patients.
Healthcare Science needs to be promoted as an important part of collaborative working. Collaborative working is an essential part of developing effective healthcare systems for integrated care.
Integrating healthcare scientists into healthcare systems will make our NHS efficient and effective. Diagnostics have become more rapid and relocation of services into diagnostic hubs and outreach centres should provide patients with personal choice, positive patient outcome and keep the patient at the centre of the care.