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Ms Sandra Chinyere - 2016 Chief Scientific Officer WISE Fellow

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My mission with applying for the fellowship was to showcase the important role of healthcare scientists in NHS pathways and to shine the light on a little known specialism that after all investigates the most important organ of all- the brain!

11 April 2017

I can almost guarantee every time I tell people I work in Clinical Neurophysiology- I usually get the same reaction- “Neuro what?” and then the next question is always are you a nurse or a doctor. So my mission with applying for the fellowship was to showcase the important role of healthcare scientists in NHS pathways and to shine the light on a little known specialism that after all investigates the most important organ of all- the brain!

Like most healthcare scientists I have met- I essentially fell into my job! Even I confess to not knowing what Clinical Neurophysiology was until I started my training. This is despite having a first degree in Biology. Having said that I can absolutely say without a doubt that I feel I have found my place in this specialty. The much used expression ‘no day is the same’ is absolutely true with a role where in the morning I could be on the intensive care unit performing an EEG on a cardiac arrest patient and in the afternoon testing an outpatient in my department for carpal tunnel syndrome. This direct contact with patients was one of the things that made me choose my specialty and one of the aspects I enjoy the most! I enjoy listening to their stories and it seems every patient has an interesting story to tell. The fellowship has given me a chance to share the passion for my job with a wider audience!

Photo: NHS healthcare science showcase day, part of healthcare science week, with pupils from Sir William Perkins School, Chertsey

What have I gained so far?

What’s most interesting is that the three other fellows are healthcare scientists in other specialities that I didn’t know much about so just chatting with them I have learnt so much more! Which brings to focus one of the most useful things I have learnt so far- the need to have a network of scientists that talk to each other. For too long as scientists we have worked in silos and in the last few months I have seen the value that comes out from having networks of healthcare scientists that can work together. Collectively as a workforce we have the same objectives and so it makes sense that we would have the same challenges- one of the main ones being lack of recognition for the valuable work we do as part of the healthcare pathway. Apart from working together to showcase the fantastic work we do, having one voice and identity means issues like accreditation, staff recruitment and training to name a few would be presented to Trust boards more effectively. There are various networks that have been established or are being established for healthcare scientists to work together and make contributions so if you haven’t joined one then you absolutely must and if there isn’t one then speak to your lead healthcare scientist in your organisation about establishing one!

The leadership component for the fellowship has given me the impetus to do something about this and not sit back and wait for someone else to do it. ‘If not me –who’ is my current motto when I think about the some of the changes I am trying to bring about in my Trust. There are essential skills that every leader should have and the four development days that make up the first component of the fellowship gave superb teaching of these. Attending training days to network and meet with other women in leadership positions has allowed me to put these into practice and also see them in practice. The London Women’s Leadership Network runs regular events for women in leadership positions to support each other and share best practice.

What’s next for me?

The next stage of the fellowship journey is the mentorship. I look forward to being mentored by one of the directors from Crossrail. For a train fanatic this is a mentorship match made in heaven! I look forward to hearing my mentor’s leadership story, what challenges she faced as she made her way to where she is now and how she overcame these. One of the things I like to ask anyone in a leadership position is ‘what makes you do what you do’? I am sure there is a lot that the NHS can learn from industry/private sector so I will be looking out for anything that I can take from this that I can use in my day to day practice.

Almost halfway through the fellowship I can certainly say it has been stimulating and I look forward to what further opportunities there are going forward!

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