Dr Fiona Chatten completed her PhD in Integrated Care at Anglia Ruskin in 2022. She was already highly experienced in her career in the National Health Service (NHS), but found opportunities for freelance development.
‘My current role as Primary Care Development Lead has not changed a lot since graduating,' Fiona says, ‘however, what has progressed significantly is my freelance training opportunities. I have had the opportunity to provide teaching sessions through the North East and Yorkshire Leadership Academy (NELA) across the North East and North Yorkshire – both to NHS, social care and academic partners.'
"The learning from my PhD could make a difference to how teams function in integrated care, which might in turn improve patient care."
As someone experienced in her career already, what did Fiona gain from her PhD experience?
‘Time management, tenacity, constant questioning and exploring. Confidence and the ability to defend my work and ideas’, she explains. Moreover, ‘this opportunity to share the learning from my PhD has been brilliant and the positive response I am getting about the content and its relevance is spurring me on to seek future opportunities. Since then, NELA have shared my slides with the NHS National Team who have asked me to take part in a national Systems Leadership webinar series to share my learning. I am also developing online learning content for Practice Nurses via the Leadership Learning Zone Platform, have undertaken training sessions with primary care in the Isle of Wight and have been approached by private training providers to provide content.'
"[Completing a PhD] can make a huge difference to your career prospects."
Working in the NHS is both rewarding and challenging, but what does Fiona find most enjoyable in her career? ‘Seeing people’s reaction when they hear my findings and realising how much sense it makes to the real world – understanding that the learning from my PhD could make a difference to how teams function in integrated care, which might in turn improve patient care.'
Does Fiona have any advice for PhD students? ‘Set realistic goals, be organised, get support from other students and be kind to yourself – it is incredibly tough! But, at the end you will be grateful you’ve completed, and it can make a huge difference to your career prospects if you chase them.'
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