Dr. Nadia Lewis
Academic Specialist Registrar
"I came into Public Health after completing my house officer posts in the UK and then spending several years in Australia, working in a variety of hospital specialities, with a final placement in General Practice.
It was during this final placement that I started to think seriously about Public Health as a career option; the General Practice in which I worked was extremely proactive with regards to health promotion, and having been saddened by the “revolving door” problems I saw in acute hospitals, and the frustrations of working in poorly designed healthcare services, I decided I really wanted to pursue this.
I was lucky to have the opportunity to work as a Clinical Teaching Fellow (teaching graduate medical students) at the University of Warwick, before being accepted as a Walport Academic Clinical Fellow onto the West Midlands Public Health Training Scheme. There are many ways of combining academia and Public Health and following the Walport route is just one of them. It offers the opportunity to work both in academic and NHS settings (i.e. to complete Public Health training) and indeed to try to link the two. One of the highlights for me has been being involved in teaching at both Bachelor and Masters degree level.
Examples of work I have been involved in include: evaluating the motivations and health needs of users of NHS Direct Online services, delivering and evaluating a family-based childhood obesity treatment intervention in Warwickshire, developing e-learning resources for GP trainees in the West Midlands relating to the “Healthy People” module in their curriculum, developing an index of new and emerging medical digital technologies to aid collaborative work between Warwick Medical School and Warwick Business School. I have also been involved with development of a Falls and Bone Health strategy for Warwickshire Primary Care Trust.
More recently I have been heavily involved in the Health Protection Agency and NHS response to swine flu, and this experience has inspired my PhD proposal (to be submitted imminently!) focussing on modelling of the initial pandemic within the West Midlands, hopefully answering some of the “what if” questions, and linking this to how the Health Protection Agency and NHS managed the outbreak, to explore whether application “lean” process principles (used mainly in the manufacturing industry) would be an appropriate way of improving the efficiency of future emergency responses.
Moving out of a clinical setting and into Public Health is like stepping into the unknown, and getting used to new patterns of working and different types of stresses can take some time. The support network of other trainees on the scheme though really is fantastic in the West Midlands. It is impossible to capture the variety of activities that you can be involved in as a Public Health trainee in just a few words, but there is huge scope for “finding your niche” and for moving forwards."