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Day in the Life of a Senior Lecturer in Health

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Name: Wendi Braithwaite
Role: Senior Lecturer in Health
Location: University Campus Suffolk –Ipswich
Wage: Undisclosed
Previous job: Clinical manager in an acute trust

My job is interesting and varied and allows me to work in the world of teaching as well as keep up to date with clinical nursing skills. The Faculty of Health, Wellbeing and Science within the UCS (University Campus Suffolk) covers a wide geographical area, including teaching sites and student placements in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Great Yarmouth, so I do a fair bit of travelling.

The role that I do

My role includes teaching on a wide range of pre- and post-registration courses and modules. The pre-registration groups include students of nursing, both at diploma and degree levels, and include midwives, learning disability, mental health, child branch and adult branch students of nursing.

Also within the faculty, we train operating department students and radiography students as well as social work students. I am not personally involved with the radiography and social work students, but do have input with the others.

The post-registration students are those who are qualified professionals seeking to undertake post-registration study and we offer a wide range of topics. My particular area of interest lies within post-registration study in the form of the BSc (Hons) Nurse Practitioner course for which I am the course leader.

I feel lucky to be involved with this group of students who are at the pinnacle of advanced nursing and are highly motivated individuals. I work as part of the acute and critical care team, so am involved heavily in specialist practice issues too.

The skills it requires

Communication is the key to passing on information successfully I would say, but I do have a teaching qualification (PGCE) and am a registered nurse, both of which are vital for this job. We are also required to have a first degree and I am almost at the end of a Masters degree in education, all of which are really helpful when teaching, marking and supporting students through their academic work.

In total, I have over thirty years of nursing experience, and this, coupled with eight years of teaching experience and an ability to keep up to date with current practice stands me in good stead for passing on information to students of all kinds. I make sure I do clinical shifts on the wards too, which has the effect of keeping me grounded and ensures I remain clinically sound.

This post requires an ability to be supportive to the students who are often stressed. Pastoral care of the students is a responsibility I enjoy, although at times, a sense of humour and patience is definitely advantageous.

Key relationships

One of the best things about this role is the level of autonomy we are entrusted with. A good working relationship is vital with the other lecturers, the senior academic staff, the administration staff, the clinical staff and probably most importantly with the students themselves. I do have a timetable which is centrally controlled, but I am expected to run my own diary and organise my own workload and contact with others.

One of my roles is to give advice to potential students from the local area about how they might plan or organise their studies.

Key ‘ups’ and ‘downs’

Teaching is such a rewarding job. There is no greater feeling than being with a group of learners who are motivated and interested in what I am teaching them. With professional training such as nursing, most of the students are motivated because they have chosen their course of study.

I prefer the teaching involved in the post-registration arena, partially because the students are so motivated, partially because it stretches me as an individual and also because the student groups are generally smaller which allows for conversation as well as ‘lecturing’. Saying that, the pre-registration groups are often quite a lot of fun too, so I guess there is enjoyment in both areas.

From a slightly more negative point of view, this can be quite an isolated job. There is a lot of preparation needed for teaching and also there is a lot of other paperwork too. I think sometimes the students don’t have any idea how much goes on behind the scenes and how much blood, sweat and tears have been shed in the quest to make their teaching sessions interesting.

Some of the students fail to gain a pass in their academic work at times and although coaching people through their studies is of particular interest to me, it is difficult when we have to fail students’ work. Lecturers actually get quite upset when students don’t do well, which is definitely a downside to the role.

Career progression opportunities

This is probably the most challenging post I have had throughout the whole of my nursing career (and the busiest!) and I still have many hills to climb. There is a hierarchy within the university which takes the path of either management or senior teaching roles, but for now, I still feel like I have much to learn.

Personal job satisfaction

This role can be very satisfying but it definitely depends on what amount of effort goes into it. I am lucky enough to have a good rapport with my teaching and clinical colleagues alike and am able to influence care delivery either through the pre-registration teaching of good practice, or by facilitating change at the interface of advanced nursing practice. What more could I ask for?

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