Practical Skills for Professional Education and Leadership in Healthcare Science (PSEL)
In 2017, Ruth Thomsen, NHS England’s Scientific Director (London) and Dr Sue Fergy, Clinical Education Lead at Health Education (London) developed this innovative 4-day programme designed for Healthcare Scientists (HCS) to develop the leadership skills and capacity for healthcare science workforce of the future. The four-day, face to face programme is enhanced by a series of online Action Learning Sets (ALS) and over 650 HCS have participated in the programme nationally.
PSEL is facilitated by a compassionate and highly experienced group of facilitators, familiar with change management, professional development and education and leadership in healthcare settings, and is administered by the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS). It is an experiential programme focused on developing self-awareness and refining leadership skills. It employs a variety of learning strategies including interactive lectures, individual and small group activities and opportunities to reflect on personal and professional development and the wider professional challenge and opportunities for HCS.
PSEL provides a safe and encouraging learning environment for participants to step out of their ‘comfort zone’ and practise new skills and utilise models to enhance their repertoire of leadership skills e.g. to rehearse newly-acquired assertiveness skills for ‘difficult conversations’ in real workplace situations, to develop an awareness of their own workplace preferences through undertaking the MBTi personality inventory. The programme offers participants the opportunity to critically reflect on their own workplace culture, to consider what is working well and what would further enhance it. The challenges of working in teams are explored how to apply new skills and approaches to working with people is addressed.
The learning outcomes of the programme for individual participants are to:
- develop knowledge and skills relevant to personal and professional leadership.
b. develop knowledge and skills relevant to personal and professional education.
c. apply knowledge and skills to enable professional development in workplace settings.
d. construct new understandings about professional education and leadership.
e. develop practical solutions to professional, workplace challenges.
f. consider ways of making professional progress
On finishing the programme, the participants, known as ‘alumni’, embed their learning during four facilitated ALS. Through these networks and ALS groups, alumni continue the discussions and reflections on good practice, ultimately translating their learning into good leadership.
The programme has been continually modified since its inception and during the COVID pandemic was adapted to ensure it could be delivered on a virtual basis, the Online Practical Skills for Professional Education and Leadership in Healthcare Science programme (OPSEL) thus continuing to offer this vital programme at a time when it was needed most.
An evaluation of the programme in 2018 reported that:
“It is clear that this programme has had a positive effect on individual participants – and also, in many cases, on their teams or departments”.
The report concludes that:
“Evidence from participants, facilitators and line managers indicates that the programme has fulfilled its aim to develop the leadership capacity of HCS. Participants have reported how they have used newly acquired tools, techniques, knowledge and they have described the impact as an enhanced self-awareness, increased confidence and motivation on their professional identity and practice. HCS have been enthusiastic about their extended professional networks and expressed confidence in a newly-forged professional identity. The findings suggest that this programme has been a sound investment for this critical part of the NHS workforce”.