"A huge benefit of the course is how flexible it is. I’ve got 2-5 years to complete all my modules, which makes it manageable alongside my other commitments."
Why I chose Surrey
I currently work as a physiotherapist on an inpatient rehabilitation unit, treating older adults with frailty. My goal is to always provide better continuity of care for my patients, with a person-centred and holistic approach. An opportunity became available in my trust to apply for a Health Education England funded place on the MSc Advanced Clinical Practice course at Surrey, my local university.
At the time, there weren’t any advanced clinical practitioner (ACP) jobs available for allied health professionals (AHPs) like me, but I’d been considering ways to develop my knowledge and skills as a health professional, to become competent in areas not traditionally within the role of a physiotherapist. It was too good an opportunity to pass by – especially after hearing such good things from previous students!
I’ve enjoyed the mixture of modules on offer. These are quite general in subject, but the assignment choices can be tailored to meet the needs of your area of practice or interest, which I’ve taken advantage of. It’s been great studying alongside peers from multi-professional backgrounds, including dietitians, midwives, nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists. Understanding how these different roles are working in or towards advanced practice positions has been invaluable for my development, pushing the boundaries of the service I can offer to my patients as an ACP.
A huge benefit of the course is how flexible it is. I’ve got 2-5 years to complete all my modules, which makes it manageable alongside my other commitments. Modules are easy to get booked onto and the number I’ve chosen to complete each year has been largely up to me.
All the teaching staff have been really supportive! Throughout every module, lecturers have been accessible and willing to give feedback on assignment ideas. They understand that most students on the course are working full-time while studying – invaluable when juggling home, work and university life. Susan Brooks, the programme leader, has been especially encouraging and helpful with all my enquiries.
"I’ve almost completed the non-medical prescribing module and feel immensely proud – I know it will contribute to the quality of care I give to my patients."
At the start of the course, I attended in-person teaching for certain aspects of my modules. The practical facilities for the physical and advanced assessment modules are spacious and representative of a clinical environment. All the seminar and lecture rooms are comfortable and always close enough to a café for a much-needed cup of coffee and cake.
With Covid-19 restrictions, my teaching has moved online, with modules facilitated entirely through weekly Zoom lectures. This was a bit daunting at first and could have been isolating, but with the support of the module facilitators and other students, it’s been an enjoyable and productive experience. Staff are contactable and have offered additional sessions to ensure we all get the reassurance and knowledge needed to complete challenging modules.
My career and development
Having studied for three years on the course, I’m making good progress and I’m now a more confident practitioner and person. I’ve almost completed the non-medical prescribing module and feel immensely proud – I know it will contribute to the quality of care I give to my patients. Completing modules across the four pillars of advanced practice (clinical, leadership, education and research) has also enabled me to improve my practice in my clinical and non-clinical roles.
I’m pleased to say I’ve secured a new role as an ACP on an inpatient rehabilitation unit in the trust I currently work for. All the hard work and knowledge I’ve gained from my studies will be utilised in this exciting new position. I’m hopeful that being the first allied health professional in the trust to obtain a role in this area will encourage the future expansion of positions and inspire more AHPs to complete advanced clinical practice courses.
I’m so thankful for the opportunities that the ACP course has offered me.
Don’t rule yourself out of being able to work towards an ACP role. It’s an evolving area and the boundaries can be challenged in how roles are developed to benefit and improve services offered to patients.