Health beyond the hospital – what I never knew, I never knew about Public Health!

When I started PICH I was working in Intensive Care, in what I thought was the frontline of NHS healthcare and all that it represents. This was an intense working environment and I had so much to learn clinically that I felt slightly lost in taking Integrated Care approaches forward. Despite this I still found it incredibly valuable thinking about patient journeys from the perspective of the families and children themselves and the conversations I had with these families and the rapport we developed over time gave me a great deal of insight into the exhaustion they felt and how overwhelming the whole experience was. Taking this forward, I have a much greater empathy for families when they take the step down from PICU onto DGH wards, and I have found that showing this insight can be helpful for them.

Halfway through my PICH year I changed to a completely contrasting role, in the Public Health team, situated within Haringey Council. By this point I had a better understanding of some of the different models of integrated care and I felt inspired by some of the speakers, who had presented their project work. I had already started work on my SOCKS! (Stamp Out Cyberbullying & Keep Safe!) project, and I was supported in further developing this through PICH. This project turned a lot of my thoughts about health and medicine on its head. I found it incredibly refreshing going out into schools and talking to healthy children with the aim of preventing some of the depression associated with cyberbullying that we see in many adolescent patients. Through my public health role, I have also been incredibly fortunate to be involved in a number of projects which offer the opportunities to work collaboratively with school nursing staff, health visitors, teachers and other professionals to prevent ill health. This feels so hopeful for a reduction in the need for secondary and tertiary services.

PICH has given me a sense of confidence and authority to think outside the box in terms of what children’s health is all about and what we can do to improve it. ​

Top Tips:

  1. Be bold – if you have an idea, but it seems impossible to get it off the ground, don’t give up. Talk to people – the more people you get to know who can help you, the better. I have come to realise how important exceptional individuals are in terms of driving change. I have met some enormously inspiring people, and they keep pushing and never give up on their plans and ideas.
  2. Ask for help when needed and never so “no”, just to be polite, when inside your body you are saying “yes, actually that would be great!”

If I could do it all again…

I would reach out beyond the hospital. It has been a privilege getting to know the school nurses and health visitors, for example. These are incredibly helpful, knowledgeable individuals working with a huge population of children and young people.