VSJ – October 2003 – Sounding Board

Unusually, this letter isn’t from a member. Sarah Toll originally wrote to us some while back asking for advice on starting out in the IT business. We thought it appropriate to print her most recent email to demonstrate that we don’t just look after the interests of members. We also have a responsibility to the general public. Of course, that consequentially raises our profile, which helps members indirectly.

I wrote to you about three years ago to request some career advice from you. I imagine that you get thousands of similar requests and don’t expect you to recall my enquiry.

That was in February of 2000 and in your response you recommended that it might be worth my while starting my IT career by working in technical support. After having spent 14 years as a Paramedic, this seemed like a very bold step but by the following May I was working in support for a local company that writes computerised traffic management systems.

The work initially was interesting and demanding and I developed a ‘feel’ for it – which was a relief as I was so unsure as to whether I would be suited to it or not. I was very lucky and did well in my job, and devoted myself to improving my knowledge and providing an excellent service to my customers. However after a couple of years I realised that there were several important elements missing from my work, which made me feel that I needed to move away from that particular job.

Before I began my IT career I had hoped that one day I would be able to combine IT and medicine, and this is where I am today. I have returned to the NHS and am now working in Clinical Audit, where I work as a Facilitator and Clinical Information System Designer. I have been in post for two months (very early days I know), and am so happy. I am working at my local hospital so am amongst people that I have known for many years already, and am dealing with familiar topics.

The end result of the audit work that we do is that clinical and working practices are changed to improve services to patients. Already one audit for which I was responsible has improved the way patients are managed pre-operatively (most importantly) and has had beneficial financial implications for the Trust.

The knowledge that I gleaned from the three years that I worked in Support have stood me in such good stead that I wanted to thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction. Although the work is very different, there are fundamental aspects that occur in both jobs and this has made my transition into my new role very much easier. My support technician days were invaluable. I really am very grateful to you.

[Something you’d like to get off your chest? Email me (Robin Jones) at eo@iap.org.uk.]

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