Case study

Transformational facilitator — Tom Rollinson

Tom uses the skills his degree gave him in his NHS job, but is now seeking to broaden his experience and options through a PhD

How did you get your job?

I currently work for the University Hospitals Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust as a transformation facilitator. I came to learn about this role through a contact who thought I'd be perfect for the job due to the expertise I had developed in my previous roles.

I applied through NHS Jobs, was shortlisted, completed a full recruitment day and was given the job along with two other candidates out of 60 applicants.

What's a typical working day like?

As with many jobs, my role involves a significant amount of paperwork, but this can often include prep work for the part of the job I enjoy the most - meeting NHS staff, going out onto the wards to talk to staff about issues they're facing, and facilitating workshops to identify improvements for the various services.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Working with frontline healthcare staff is challenging but incredibly rewarding. We go on a journey as a team when working on projects - there are highs and lows, but starting to see the results of our hard work leading to better patient care makes all the hard work worth it.

What are the challenges?

Despite the clearly underfunded state of the NHS, there are still lots ways that patient care can be improved and money can be saved. For this reason, a lot of my work focuses on ways staff can work better and more efficiently.

In what way is your medical science degree relevant?

My degree is relevant as it's given me a solid understanding of basic science, which enables me to understand the reason treatments are given. Medical terminology is like another language at times and a bit esoteric, so having this knowledge and understanding helps things to move at scale and pace, as well as being helpful in terms of relationship building.

My research-orientated medical science course instilled an interest in me for the new and emerging frontiers of knowledge. I hope pursuing this knowledge will benefit my career in the long run.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My role is still fairly new, so I'm still feeling my way into the job. What I can say is that my aspirations have changed a lot since completing my medical science course. My future ambition is still not fully formed, but that's fine. I find the opportunity to chop and change quite comforting.

However, I do have plans to complete a PhD in this field once my MSc is finished, and work in consultancy for a couple of years before deciding what I want to do. The key for me is to keep my options open and have the ability to take opportunities as and when they come along.

How could someone else get into your area of work?

On a basic level, having a broad understanding of the healthcare system is fundamentally important. Appreciating that the NHS is one of the most complicated and high-risk industries known to man helps you to view it from a different perspective.

Committing to constant improvement would be my biggest tip though. This isn't something you can learn in the lecture theatre or books, it's a mindset and only comes from working within the field and seeing improvement as a thing that we are all responsible for.

It's worth setting up an NHS Jobs account and job search so that you receive notifications on a daily basis for appropriate jobs. Having a LinkedIn profile is also helpful.

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