Thoughts on my Masters studies in patient safety

Clare Ashby

The Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s Patient Safety Collaborative (PSC) is funding two people to complete Masters degrees at the University of Nottingham University as part of a programme launched by the National PSC.

Clare Ashby, who successfully applied for funding to the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s PSC, to complete a Masters degree in Quality and Patient Safety Improvement, has written a blog about her experience to date:

“There are many reasons why someone might undertake a Master’s Degree; to start a new career, to progress up the career ladder or to expand their knowledge of fields related to their current areas of professional specialisation. For myself being a mother, full time worker and a generally busy person I had, up until now, been resistant to the idea of undertaking master’s study and none of these reasons had been motivating enough for me to take the plunge.

“Having studied fairly recently for a post-graduate certificate I knew what this level of study would involve for me personally, not being the best with the written word. Yet when I heard about the AHSN’s Patient Safety Collaborative’s opportunity for funding a master’s programme, in particular one that was related to patient safety and quality improvement, I have to admit it made me think again.

“When you have a passion for a specific subject study of it becomes more like a hobby than a chore. You can bring lack lustre work projects back to life, breath new ideas into your workplace and improve the way you work with your team and wider organisation. Masters study allows for deep thinking and critical analysis; in the NHS world where so much of our work is reactive and operational taking this time out to think about the work you are doing in a more critical way is empowering. Having a deep understanding of quality improvement methodology, how it can help to improve patient safety and developing a tool kit to support its practical application is so meaningful to me in my current role as it allows me to bring improvement methods into everything that we do; making both myself and my team more effective.

“So I am one module in…. have I made the right decision? Well I haven’t handed in my first assignment yet so watch this space. I am studying Patient Safety and Quality Improvement at Nottingham University. They have developed a course that allows the art and science of quality improvement to develop together. Winning hearts and minds over to improvement techniques and working with teams to continuously improve their organisational culture is an overall aim and this is rooted firmly on the building blocks of the IHI Improvement Model and constant measurements to confirm that change is an improvement.

“So will this change me? Will this be an improvement for me? I can honestly say that I am already more open to new ways of working, more interested in some of the more difficult work projects that I have undertaken at work and I believe this is because the course is helping me to think differently, to try out new ideas and to re-charge my batteries giving me more of the persistence and resilience that we all know we need to make real improvements in any workplace.”