How I went from working in the NHS to winning a National Teaching Fellowship

Emma Hyde, Head of Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Derby reflects on winning the prestigious National Teaching Fellowship award. In this blog, she details her passion for both her subject and teaching.

Advance HE awards National Teaching Fellowships (NTFs) annually to 50 academics recognised as individuals who have ‘made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education’.

The University of Derby has a strong record of accomplishment in the NTF scheme, with three nominees in the last three years awarded an NTF. Head of Diagnostic Imaging, Emma Hyde, is the most recent recipient of the award, gaining her NTF in August 2020.

Passionate about student experience

Before starting work at the University in 2006, I worked as a Diagnostic Radiographer in the NHS for 10 years. During my time in clinical practice, I always enjoyed working with students, and over the years, I took on roles that led me further and further down the teaching route. So when I started teaching full time at the University it felt like I had found my perfect role.

I loved the excitement of the start of term, and seeing all the new students arrive on campus, and at graduation, awards ceremonies and assessment boards, I always felt incredibly proud of my student’s achievements. This passion only grew over the years, as I thought more and more about student experience, and how to improve it.

I was particularly interested in the transition to clinical placement, which can be challenging for some students. Research I carried out confirmed some of these challenges, and so I started working on ways to improve this transition. This included increasing simulation activities in the clinical skills suite, providing additional advice and support, looking at rota patterns and much more.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice

The decision to increase simulation activities was a huge success and has had a massive impact on students’ transition to clinical placement. These sessions simulate the clinical environments that our students will be working in clinical practice. Our radiography students practice undertaking X-rays in our digital X-ray room, using our mobile X-ray machine in our ward areas, and working with an Image Intensifier in our theatre setting.

We also simulate carrying out CT and MRI scans using special software, and our sonography students practice ultrasound scans linked to mannequin ‘patients’. Realism added by the inclusion of service users or actors in the simulations, the use of and props such as moulage (special makeup used to simulate wounds, burns etc), smells and simulated body fluids.

Simulation sessions evaluate very highly and student feedback is overwhelmingly positive about not just the skills it helps them to develop, but the confidence it helps them to build too. Radiographers working with our students on clinical placements have also fed back the noticeable change they have seen in student’s technical skills and confidence levels.

All of this helps to prepare our students for their clinical placements in NHS hospitals, and ultimately to provide the best possible care to our patients.

Contributing to the profession’s research base

The focus on preparing students for clinical practice and delivering high-quality care led me to consider how we measure what good patient care looks like in Diagnostic Radiography. There are many studies measuring patient care in nursing and medicine, but until recently, there have been few pieces of research measuring it in diagnostic radiography.

This interest led me to undertake a number of research projects and collaborations with colleagues that share a passion for patient care. This work has all directly fed back into my own teaching practice, and the teaching and research philosophy of my team.

The strong emphasis on patient care is evident in the curriculum of the diagnostic imaging programmes, and underpinned by journal articles and book chapters written by myself and other members of the team. True research-informed teaching!

The Award

The NTF award drew together all of my passions as a radiography educator – student experience, patient-centered care, and supporting my team to develop their own research skills and interests. I feel honoured to have received this prestigious award. I am looking forward to getting more involved with the NTF community through networking events and opportunities for collaboration.

So, if you enjoy working with people, are looking for career in a caring profession, and have an interest in using technology, you might want to find out more about our programmes of study here at University of Derby.

Who knows? You could be one of the thousands of diagnostic radiographers or sonographers making a difference to patients’ lives, delivering outstanding care by producing vital high quality diagnostic image

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