Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Could The New Postgraduate Study Loans Help The NHS?

Post grad study seems to constantly be at the back of my mind the past few weeks. Shall I start my Masters?  Which course shall I undertake?  Do I really need a MSc to progress in my career?  So many questions and numerous answers.  Having investigated a few options I felt a little restricted, especially as I was looking to my employer to fund any postgrad courses.  Therefore the course has to be completely relevant to my job description for any funding application to be considered.  Furthermore with increasing pressure on NHS Trust funds there are huge reductions in funding for post grad study, whichever profession you are.  

Not one to give up easily and as SoR Learning Rep I am keeping an eye on opportunities for CPD and study options.  Initially not paying a lot of attention to the announcement in the Budget earlier this year that there would be new Postgraduate Study Loans available from this September, I decided to investigate a little more whilst on annual leave this week.  These new loans are available for post grad courses that lead to a Masters qualification.  The course you undertake must be provided by a UK university, including the Open University, can be a taught or research based course and can even be used to fund a part time course and by distance learning.  This creates numerous possibilities for those of us looking to gain a Masters qualification.  Imagine the possibilities this could create for NHS employees in improving their own knowledge and the service and care that they deliver.  No longer restricted to study certain courses we could enhance our knowledge which in turn will improve service delivery and more importantly improve the standard of care delivered.  Obviously it is important that we complete courses that are specific to our jobs aswell so that we can continue as individual departments and Trusts as a whole to raise standards.  Also as staff would repay the loans themselves there would be no extra strain on Trusts finances.

But lets think outside the box for a moment.  What if I decided to study the MSc. in Mental Health Science with the OU?  Whilst it is not directly related to Radiotherapy, Oncology or Radiography, which my job is, lets stop and think.  Actually this course would be related to all of these and could be very beneficial to the care of my patients, for staff and the department.  As part of this course I would develop knowledge and understanding of stress, anxiety, depression, psychosis and dementia, aswell as developing a critical understanding that could help me improve clinical practice.  With the final module being a research project in an area of mental health science I could tailor this for radiotherapy patients.  

So maybe it is time we explored different options that improve us as radiographers and continue to help us raise standards of care.  Could these new Postgraduate Loans be the answer?  I would love to know what you think.

Until next time, take care.

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