Jon Wells

MSc in Surgical Science and Practice

'I am a paediatric surgeon in my last year of training, based in Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and took up a new Research Fellowship position at the Hospital in 2013. At that time there was no formal research pathway, and so we reviewed the available MScs in the UK and decided Oxford’s part-time MSc in Surgical Science and Practice was the most relevant. We were able to arrange with Oxford to take all the modules in one year (the modules are normally spread over two years), to facilitate the Fellowship model developing at the BCH.

'Whilst studying I still had some clinical commitments (principally the night shift call rota) but I enjoyed all the modules of the MSc, although it was quite hard work taking them full time. I particularly liked the back-to-back weeks as they were very immersive, and the opportunities to meet and work with international students with different backgrounds. I am now back into full time training at BCH having completed the modules but am working on my dissertation project ‘Predictive value of urinary intestinal fatty acid binding protein in preterm infants at risk of developing necrotising enterocolitis’. With my supervisor, Ingo Jester, I received Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity funds to carry out the research. The project is a new collaboration between Birmingham Women’s Hospital, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

'On the back of the Human Factors module we have developed a collaboration with Loughborough University, hosting an undergraduate student at BCH. We looked for a source of expertise local to Birmingham in Human Factors, and Loughborough have experience of working with NHS Trusts. This collaboration would not have occurred without the opportunities provided by the fellowship. The first student started a 6-week placement in February 2015. Linked with my other human factors projects, the student is applying human factors science to observations of surgical teams’ pre-surgery team briefings, WHO checklists and post-surgery debriefs. We hope that this work will ultimately lead to improvements in information-flow between team members, reduce distractions and enhance patient safety.

'Also as a result of the MSc I have become more involved with my local NHS Trust, working on issues of quality improvement. I’m currently working on a project to encourage engagement of front-line staff in resolving local issues – problems that people feel are too small to be reported, but where their resolution would improve their working lives.

'As an alumnus, I would like to remain connected with the programme and my fellow students. I’d particularly like be able to communicate the outcomes (positive and negative) about my research projects, and hear about theirs in turn.

I would consider further study in the future, but for now I am one year away from completing my training, and will be looking for a consultant post next year.

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