Flying the flag for allied health professionals

3 minute read

The role of a paediatric speech and language therapist (SLT) is highly rewarding and at times extremely challenging. As allied health professionals (AHPs) our roles are varied and highly specialised.

You may find us within a cleft lip and palate team at a teaching hospital, diagnosing and treating children with neuro-developmental conditions or language disorders, assessing swallowing or programming alternative communication devices for non-verbal children. On Monday we might be supporting parents through a life-changing diagnosis for their child and all that it entails. By Wednesday we are training nursery staff in Makaton to support language delayed four-year-olds. We love nothing more than getting stuck into a narrow phonetic transcription of atypical speech profiles!

I am deeply proud of my profession, which values, above all else, giving vulnerable children a voice. We often slip by unseen, working in the shadows.

My decision to apply to Oxford came at a juncture in my life. The strong sense that I needed challenge, direction and renewed focus. I am certainly experiencing all three in abundance. The MSc in Global Healthcare Leadership was exactly what I needed at precisely the right time in my life. It is enabling me to develop a breadth of skills across healthcare that I would never otherwise have had the opportunity to learn.

Organisational leadership, systems learning, approaches to research, strategies and scenarios, and far more to come.

Having now completed one term of the programme, I can confidently state the following:

  • Moving out of your ‘comfort zone’ is the most terrifying and exhilarating step you will ever take.
  • Immersing yourself in a culture of deep learning with exceptional friends and faculty not only develops your mind, it feeds your soul.
  • You can achieve seemingly impossible goals when you are surrounded by remarkable people.

One of the most valuable aspects of this programme is the diversity of our cohort. Every imaginable perspective on modern healthcare is represented. This fosters lively debate, engaging discussions and a healthy dose of humour. We feel very bonded in our drive for fairer, equitable healthcare for all. I could not have hoped for a more inclusive and supportive team.

The benefits of Oxford Saïd

The provision of professional coaching is a real bonus at Saïd Business School. Whilst reflecting on my personality analysis and engaging in frank discussion, my coach, Karen, made a number of observations that I feel others may also find thought-provoking:

  • do not be afraid to let your voice be heard
  • embrace the unknown and allow it to open your mind to new opportunities
  • take your seat at the table: you’ve earned it

In addition to my own professional development, I hope to raise the profile of AHPs who are keen to move into strategic leadership roles. AHPs are a group of 14 distinct and diverse healthcare professions working within the UK's National Health Service (NHS). In addition to SLTs, the group comprises dieticians, physiotherapists, radiographers, paramedics and many more. All are crucial to delivering healthcare.

Despite being the third largest workforce within the NHS, there is an under-representation of AHPs in senior leadership positions. This lack of diversity leaves a huge pool of talent untapped, with limited role models to inspire other clinicians to move into leadership. As a group we are relationship-oriented with a focus on the individual. We are adept at working in under-funded settings and as a result are creative and resourceful.

Do I still feel a level of imposter phenomenon? Yes, but I’m working on it.

Do I feel out of my depth? Sometimes, but I’m not drowning.

Adopting a growth mind-set and leaving the safe and familiar behind is vital when you have the privilege of studying at the best university in the world.

After all, this is Oxford.

Oxford MSc Global Healthcare Leadership