1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Mark Hills and I am a Resuscitation Officer. I began my career in healthcare in 1993 with London Ambulance Service as a qualified ambulance person (technician). I then moved to work at The Royal London (St Bartholomew's) Hospital where I worked as a healthcare assistance before qualifying in operating department practice (ODP) from what was, then, Anglia Polytechnic University.
While working at the Royal London and Barts I worked in all specialties, and was part of the healthcare team dealing with some of London’s biggest incidents.
Since qualifying I have continued to develop professionally and my field of interest is resuscitation and critical care. I enjoy my clinical practice, as well as mentoring students and teaching all grades of healthcare staff. I am also a director of my own company which provides medical cover and training.
In my spare time I also enjoy volunteering, and have been a member of St John Ambulance for 24 years. I am passionate about first aid, and helped pilot the community first responder scheme in Havering. I was granted a Havering Council Civic Award for providing lifesaving first aid in a dangerous situation in 2009. I believe that first aid should be taught in schools and offered to all members of the public.
Outside of work and volunteering I enjoy sports, swimming, judo and I love to cook. After leaving school I originally trained as a chef before entering healthcare.
2. What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?
Developing lifelong friendships with fellow students I would study, work and generally enjoy student life with (which often meant ending up in the pub after a long day/shift!)
3. What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate?
Always challenge yourself, don’t give up and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Every experience is an opportunity to learn, and learning is something we never stop doing. Be proud of your profession and always promote it, it is advancing all the time.
4. What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst you were studying?
How to deal with challenging situations, from day to day stresses of working in healthcare to individual cases like treating a critically ill or injured child to recovering a patient post-operatively where an extremely poor prognosis has been found during surgery.
5. How did your time at Anglia Ruskin help you?
I was very fortunate to be one of a few students who were based at The Royal London Hospital for my training, where we undertook our practice development. There I gained a vast amount of knowledge through the exceptional staff I worked with, and the specialties that the hospital provided. Anglia’s experienced tutors supported my career development and were always approachable for advice and a friendly ear.
6. What did you love about your chosen course?
I loved being able to work in several different areas, from paediatrics or maternity to accident and emergency, allowing me to develop a vast array of skills and the ability to communicate with a diverse group of people.
7. What would you tell someone thinking of studying at ARU?
I really enjoyed my time at Anglia, and have seen the University develop in the years since I left. I feel that the University has gone from strength to strength, and can offer far more now than when I was a student there.
8. In one word how would you describe Anglia Ruskin?
9. Who was the biggest influence on your career?
Operating department practitioners are the unsung heroes of the hospital. Not many people realise who they are or what they do, but the people who I gained so much from are too many to mention them all. One person who sticks in my mind is Mr Alastair Wilson OBE, A&E consultant at the Royal London.
10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Apart from being nominated for this, receiving the honour of becoming a Serving Brother in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. This is granted by Her Majesty the Queen, who is sovereign head of the order, for exceptional service.
11. What advice would you give your younger self?
Never give up; keep on trying with anything that is thrown at you. Dyslexia doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
12. What drives you?
When I was 16 years old I was training at my judo club and unfortunately the person I was training with collapsed and had a heart attack and then a cardiac arrest. I and no one else at my club knew what to do, I never want to be in that position again and I feel no one else should be. So I started with St John learning first aid and that helped choose my career.
Providing the best possible care to my patients, and educating others as I feel that no-one should suffer due to the lack of knowledge.
13. What’s next?
I am hoping that the ODP profession will gain more recognition, including changes to the Medicines Act. The opening of more roles in hospitals to ODPs would allow us a wider scope of practice.
I am looking forward to the first national ODP day (14 May 2018), which is an opportunity to promote our profession.
For me, I plan to continue to develop academically and clinically.