Celebrating MED’s Community Celebrating MED’s Community

'Celebrating MED'

Each month we focus on a colleague within Norwich Medical School and celebrate their work, a current project, a recent achievement or an area (in or outside of work) they are particularly proud of.

It is a chance to get to know those we work with, and for us all to be aware of the wonderfully talented community that is MED!

Helen Sayer - Local Support Helen Sayer - Local Support

Briefly describe your role in MED

I have worked in MED since 2005 as an Administrative Assistant.  Throughout my time have worked for ClinPsyD, Diet and Health group (now Dept. of Nutrition), MED SPACE for the MED/EFRY building, Consultation Skills, module 7, 11 and year 3 support.  I now also provide administrative support to the Anatomy team as the Bequeathal Secretary. 

What is your ‘success’ story or the good news you would like to share?

Aside from becoming the first Bequeathal Secretary for the Norwich Medical School; I will be starting the AURORA Leadership Programme in October 2018!  

Can you explain the importance of this success for you and your role in MED? What has allowed you/made it possible to achieve this?

Having the support of my line managers, Academic peers and confidence to take the next step in my career.  I feel proud of myself to have been considered to represent the school on the course.  The Bequeathal Secretary post has given me the opportunity to use my skills and knowledge acquired over the years; unleashing my potential and given me renewed energy.

Were there any challenges that you had to overcome?

Aside from completing the AURORA application form and giving myself ‘the push’ to apply – I have had support from colleagues and line managers to encourage me all the way to be considered for the course. This made the experience very easy and not as daunting as I thought it would be.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to see myself working full time in the role as Bequeathal Secretary.  Helping families who have lost loved ones through the bereavement process and making the donors final wish be fulfilled is a gratifying thing.  Sometimes families just need emotional support and being the first point of contact is a huge honour.

Please also pick two of the questions below:

How do you create life/work balance in your career?

By making sure I switch out of ‘work mode’ the minute I swipe out of the car park!  In the beginning I would worry about not completing everything; but not my motto is ‘If the work cannot be done in one day it will still be there tomorrow’!  I also recommend getting out for a walk round the lake and enjoying the beautiful campus we have on hand to us – the best form of distressing.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Not burning both ends of the candle and to not stress over the smallest of things – life is too short for bad gin!

Jo Hodgekins - Clinical Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology Jo Hodgekins - Clinical Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

I first started working at UEA in 2003 as a Research Associate on a funded project in the Medical School. In 2004, I started a part-time PhD alongside my RA role, which I completed in 2008. I then did a short post-doc role before commencing Clinical Psychology doctoral training (also at UEA) in 2009. After completing my Clinical Psychology training in 2012, I was successful in applying for a Clinical Lecturer role in the Department of Clinical Psychology in Norwich Medical School. I was promoted to Clinical Senior Lecturer in 2016. Therefore, I guess you could describe me as a good example of UEA “growing their own”!

In 2015 I had a period of maternity leave and felt well supported by my Head of Department and Line Manager in planning for this, especially in terms of making sure my workload was covered and my research activity sustained. I was also encouraged to apply for promotion to Clinical Senior Lecturer whilst on maternity leave and was provided with support in doing this, using keeping in touch days to meet with my Head of Department and Line Manager. Upon returning from maternity leave, I applied for flexible working to reduce my hours to part-time (60%). This enables me to maintain a relatively healthy work-life balance and to spend valuable time with my young daughter. I have been informed that my flexible working arrangements can be reviewed should I wish to return to full-time hours, which is always good to know. When I am at work, my daughter attends the excellent UEA Nursery, situated on campus and enabling me to use the university’s Salary Sacrifice Scheme, making childcare a bit more affordable.

Life is inevitably busy and maintaining the balance between an academic career and parenting does sometimes feel like a juggling act. In particular, balancing the demands of teaching and research responsibilities on part-time hours can be difficult – a feeling I know is shared by other colleagues. Supporting people in their return to academia following parental leave is an area I feel very passionate about and I value my role as Flexible Working Lead on the Athena SWAN committee in contributing to this. I have run focus groups with parents who have recently returned from leave and developed resources to support people in both planning their leave and in returning to work. 

Despite the juggling act, I am continuing to meet REF targets and recently had paper published in Lancet Psychiatry about Social Recovery Therapy for people with psychosis, which was also covered by local media and has resulted in an NIHR signal

I have a good relationship with my Line Manager and at my most recent appraisal, we discussed how my work load could be reorganised to allow me enough time to continue to focus on and grow my research. In addition, the Medical School have recently agreed to support me to attend the Aurora Leadership Development Programme. I therefore feel as though others are invested in my ongoing development.

karen milton - lecturer in public health karen milton - lecturer in public health

What is your ‘success’ story, positive message or good news you would like to share

My background is in physical activity and health, which for a long time has been considered the ‘Cinderella risk-factor’ due to receiving less attention from policymakers than the other behavioural risk factors for non-communicable diseases (smoking, poor diet, alcohol consumption). In 2017 the World Health Organization committed to developing the first ever Global Action Plan on Physical Activity and I was invited to join the Strategic Advisory Network responsible for shaping its content. This is a huge personal achievement as well as a potentially game-changing development for the field.

Can you explain the importance of this success for you and your role in MED? What has allowed you/made it possible to achieve this?

The endorsement of the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 will mean that member states are mandated to deliver on this agenda. This has huge potential for reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases as well as creating opportunities for physical activity and health related research. These developments also provide illustrative examples of public health policy and practice for integration into the teaching curriculum.

Were there any challenges that you had to overcome?

A key challenge for physical activity is that it competes for policy attention against many other risk factors for non-communicable diseases. The Global Action Plan is the culmination of years of advocacy to increase the prominence of physical activity on the World Health Organizations’ agenda.

What are your plans for the future?

In my role as public health theme lead at UEA, I hope to fully understand and maximise the presence of public health in the medical curriculum. I also plan to develop a research programme around physical activity and health, with a specific focus on policy.

Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

Sydney, Australia. I have been fortunate to have visited Sydney on many occasions, including doing my post doc there for 12 months. Sydney is a vibrant (and walkable) city with beautiful beaches and some of the most consistent surf in the world.  

Who is/was your most influential mentor/colleague and why?

Fiona Bull, who was my line manager for five years at Loughborough University when I was relatively new to the field of physical activity and health research. Fiona has a tireless work ethic and taught me an extraordinary amount about physical activity, research, and life in general. Fiona is also the most formidable physical activity and health advocate in the world!