My experience on the Cardiac Science PTP by Kiera Legg

Find out more about life as a trainee on the Practitioner Training Programme.

What is your overall experience of the healthcare science course that you studied? What are the particular benefits or challenges you faced?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time studying Cardiac Physiology, and I have felt that throughout the course we have had the theoretical teaching to prepare us for placement. Throughout the three years I have had the privilege of undertaking placements in a variety of hospitals of different sizes that offer different services. For me this has been a huge benefit as I have been able to broaden my experiences and been given the opportunities to see so much. The most challenging thing I found was that initial start of different placements and settling into a department, but everyone is so accommodating to students and so keen to teach and guide you, that that feeling soon went and I very quickly felt welcomed into the different departments I worked in.

Was this the right choice of degree to meet your career goals. How well did the course prepare you for employment?

This was without a doubt the right choice of degree for me, I am so grateful that I discovered it during my time at college. In three very short years I have gone from being at college to being qualified and about to begin a job and have a career. Particularly in our third year the course has been very good at preparing us for employment. We have had mock interviews with heads of departments to give us practise and feedback and tips for the real thing. This was one of the most helpful tools I think and was something I drew upon when I was in my job interviews.

What are your reflections on the placement/workplace programme. What were the particular benefits or disadvantages?

The placement aspect of the programme was brilliant and essential for the jobs we are going into. The experiences I have gained have been invaluable, and with each placement I felt my confidence grow. I can’t think of any disadvantages of it. It made it clear to me what size department that I enjoy working in, and gave experiences working in different team dynamics.

What are your reflections on your patient facing experiences? Did these add value to your programme?

During our training we had practical sessions with patients to perform tests such as ECG’s and tape fittings. It was extremely helpful having that practise before being on placement as it provided experiences that we could draw upon. We were fortunate enough to work with both male and female patients as well. Also, we worked with the patient experience group, which included volunteers that have experienced being patients in the past. They observed our practical’s and gave us feedback regarding our communication and our bedside manner. I have found that when you’re training it can be easy to get caught up with the technicalities of the test you’re performing, so having someone giving constructive feedback on aspects such as communication was invaluable, and comments I received from them have helped me on placement and I will always remember them when I am with patients.

Are there any particular anecdotal or emotional experiences that you would like to describe?

I think one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced has to be open heart surgery. I was fortunate enough to be in a theatre with a fantastic team that let me stand on a stool right next to the anaesthetist by the patient’s head, overlooking their chest. The patient was receiving a triple heart bypass and I was there from start to finish when the patient was brought in and received general anaesthetic to the end where they were stitched back up. It was incredible to see the patient’s heart beating right in front of me and watch them be put on cardiopulmonary bypass and watch the heart stop beating to allow the bypass to be performed. The surgeon talked me through what they were doing and answered all of my questions. The following day I went to intensive care and spoke to the patient (who was doing very well). I thanked them and told them that it was the very first time I had seen anything like that, and it was a privilege to be there. He told me that he was extremely proud to be the first surgery that I ever saw. He was a truly lovely gentlemen and it is an experience I will never forget.

Would you recommend your healthcare science programme to prospective students?

I would 100% recommend this course. The content and experiences you gain are excellent, the job prospect is fantastic and the support you receive for the entirety of the course is brilliant. I’ve genuinely loved it.

How do you think the healthcare science degree can be better promoted?

I think that the course needs to be promoted at more career’s fares at colleges and sixth forms and should be introduced to students in secondary schools. From personal experiences, while at school I knew that I wanted to go into healthcare, but I only knew about a career as a doctor or a nurse. I think it is really important to make students aware of other pathways in healthcare at that earlier stage. This could be done by presentations in classes or assemblies. Cardiac Physiologists could potentially take equipment such as ECG machines, blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes and show the students to get them hands on.

Are you now employed? If yes, state grade, title and place/department of employment.

Yes, I have a post as a Cardiac Physiologist (Band 5) at University Hospital Southampton.

How many interviews did you attend before being offered this job opportunity?

I attended two interviews overall both for the position of a Band 5 Cardiac Physiologist, with a job offer following the second interview.

Are you now following a career in healthcare science? Is this in your placement department and/or specialism?

I am yes. It is in the department that I undertook my final placement at.

Please comment on your experience in employment so far.

I am due to start my new job in a weeks’ time, however I have my uniform ready to go and I am very excited to get started. I can’t wait to be hands on and it will be very exciting to introduce myself as a Cardiac Physiologist without ‘student’ in front of it!

What are your long term career ambitions?

I have always been very interested in congenital heart defects and I would love to train in paediatric echocardiography and work with those children affected, both before and after treatment. Following on from this, in the future I would love to perform fetal echocardiography to diagnose congenital heart defects while in the womb.