I have been working in a clinical informatics role for many years. I sort of fell into it, I didn’t start out with a passion for technology, I wasn’t a closet programmer, nor was I looking to move further away from patients.

But what I did spot was an opportunity; something that even then I believed could have a transformational effect on how I delivered care.

That belief led me to a career at NHS Direct, where I was one of the team who set up the West Yorkshire site, and a few years later I found myself one of a very small number of clinicians working on the National Programme for IT. It certainly isn’t an orthodox clinical career, but it’s been an exciting one.

Anne 1983

These days, clinicians often ask me: “How can I get ‘into’ a clinical informatics role?”

The question comes from a range of people; student nurses, right through to fairly senior colleagues.  Up to now I have never really had an answer beyond fairly passive things like “seek out your CIO/CCIO and tell them you are interested” or “volunteer to join a project where they are doing digital work” – my answers always seemed less than satisfactory and even a bit like I was passing the buck.

So I am delighted and proud that at NHS Digital we have developed a Fellowship Programme for clinicians who have no previous experience of working on technology or data projects. We are targeting the programme at professional staff who are band 6/7 or equivalent. They must be working in the service in either a health or care setting.

Fellowship is a term understood by professionals to mean a fixed period of internship away from their usual employer or workplace for the purposes of an exchange of skills and benefits through a formal working relationship between the fellow and the host organisation.

For our fellows this will mean they work on defined areas of work based in programmes. They will spend a period in both a data setting and a technology setting to experience the range of services that NHS Digital delivers.

The adverts for the fellowship scheme can be found here:

Clinical Informatics Fellowship – clinician

Clinical Informatics Fellowship – social worker

I hope you, like me, are excited about this new opportunity and the new insights and help it will bring to NHS Digital, to feel much closer to the way frontline care is delivered.

We will try to tell the story of some of our fellows’ journeys over the coming months, so watch this space and at last I have an answer!

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