“A setback is just a setup for something greater”

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Holly Spencer is a sonographer and one of our second cohort of Clinical Education Improvement Fellows (CEIF), working across clinical practice and healthcare education, developing system-level skills, supporting students and healthcare staff in a variety of settings. Holly began her career as a diagnostic radiographer before specialising in paediatric radiography at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS). After several fantastic years in children’s x-ray, Holly moved internally to the main ultrasound department, where she began her training to be a non-obstetric sonographer. Since then, Holly has continued to add strings to her ultrasound bow, and now has a depth and breadth of experience in multiple ultrasound specialisms. Holly has studied at post-graduate level to achieve these qualifications and will complete her MSc in medical ultrasound later this year.

Holly is passionate about diagnostic imaging, clinical education, and workforce development. She has been able to pursue these passions through a variety of different roles: as a senior sonographer at UHS, as a clinical skills trainer for the NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme, as the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board radiography supply project lead, and (in her current role) as a Clinical Education Improvement Fellow (CEIF).

“To our readers, I extend a warm welcome as we approach the end of month 9 of our Clinical Education Improvement Fellowship.

We are now in the thick of summer: the days are long; the sun is shining (for the most part); and the air is perfumed with the scent of flowers. Summer is known for its vitality and activity, so the conditions are ripe to reflect on the hard work of the 2022/23 fellowship cohort, as we prepare the fruits of our labours for harvest.

As I think back to the beginning of the fellowship, it is wonderful to see how far each of us has come, both professionally and personally. Reflecting on my personal journey, I recall the early struggles of having to rebuild my project from the bottom up when, in the first few months, it became apparent my original proposal was no longer viable. It has certainly been a winding road that has brought me to this point. As I recall my feelings at that time, and then contemplate my progress to date, I am reminded of the saying, “A setback is just a setup for something greater”.

That is certainly how I feel about the initial setback that eventually led to my redesigned project: an implementation study of the College of Radiographers’ Education and Career Framework, the 4th Edition of which launched in November 2022. We know there is often a dissonance between ‘policy intent’ and ‘policy in-practice’; to bridge this translational gap, we must understand the ‘real world’ interactions between contexts (encompassing organisational and technical structures), actors (including individuals and groups), and objects (such as clinical practices and procedures). In my project, these ‘real world’ interactions have been explored through the design and dissemination of an England-wide consultation survey, along with a series of consultation workshops, both underpinned by Normalisation Process Theory, and co-developed with the project steering group (comprised of key stakeholders spanning the breadth of the diagnostic radiography profession).

With the data collection coming to a close this month, and the process of data synthesis due to commence, attentions inevitably turn to the project outputs. These will be informed by the synthesised findings of the consultation survey and workshops, which have (thus far) been truly enlightening, raising numerous similar and disparate themes. Much like the data collection tools, the final products will be developed in partnership with the steering group and other key stakeholders. As we approach the final quarter of the fellowship, it is truly exciting to see the outputs (and impacts) taking shape; it is equally exciting to observe the progress of my fellowship colleagues, whose ambitions, efforts, and outputs never cease to dazzle me.

Regrettably, I was unable to attend this month’s academic session, hosted by Professor Chris Burton, Professor Paula Kersten, and Dr Maria Birch from Canterbury Christ Church University. Instead, I was in Liverpool attending the UK Imaging & Oncology (UKIO) 2023 Congress. This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the project, network, further the data collection, and boost engagement around the framework and its implementation. I was kindly invited by the Society and College of Radiographers to deliver a presentation about the implementation study and, with their help (using their exhibition stand as a platform), we were able to promote the consultation survey to the congress delegates. Through an application process, I was permitted to host a consultation workshop at the conference itself, as part of the UKIO 2023 Research Hub (a truly novel approach to data collection). Also, the fantastic hosts of Rad Chat (Naman Julka-Anderson and Jo McNamara) welcomed me to speak about the project on their radiography-centric podcast. I am overflowing with gratitude for all those who, during the conference, offered me a platform and gave their valuable time to endorse and contribute towards the project.

UKIO 2023 was a truly inspiring event, made so largely because of the inspirational people in attendance. While there were countless messages I would like to share in this blog, I will focus only on one, which came from a presentation delivered by Dr Amy Robertson (Professional Officer for Education and Accreditation, Society and College of Radiographers) about the 4th Edition of the Education and Career Framework. During her presentation, Dr Amy Robertson discussed the components of capability (capacity and ability) and the value of human capital. To perfectly summarise in a quote, “Any organisation is only as good as its people. They are its most valuable asset.” Without a doubt, these are notions that resonate powerfully with me, having been woven through my project and fellowship experience. Afterall, there is an intrinsic link between the implementation of the College of Radiographers’ Education and Career Framework (4th Edition) and unlocking our human capital. Investment in people is a principle I will continue to champion, with great pride and passion, over the course of my career.

At this juncture, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to NHS England (South East) Workforce, Training, & Education, the Florence Nightingale Foundation, and Canterbury Christ Church University for their unwavering support. The fellowship has been a singular opportunity for which I am, and forever will be, thankful.

If you would like to check out the Rad Chat podcast about my fellowship project, please click on the link below:

UKIO 2023: College of Radiographers’ Education and Career Framework (4th Ed.) Implementation Study

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter.”

If you would like to find out more about the 2022-2023 CEIF cohort, please click here. Also please do follow #SE_CEIF and #TeamFNF on socials to keep up-to-date.