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Interview with Sarah Quinton

Sarah Quinton is the course director for our Advanced Critical Care Practice masters, as well as working as a Nurse Consultant in Critical Care and Advanced Practice at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. We caught up with her to find out more about the course and what advice she would give to people considering applying.

What’s your professional background?

I’m a registered general nurse – I qualified in 1988 at East Birmingham Hospital and initially worked in ophthalmology and surgery before moving to Intensive Care. My experience over the last 25 years has mostly been gained working in a critical care environment but I’ve spent time in other areas too, including nurse recruitment, nurse management and service development. I’ve always had an interest in education.

A few years ago I worked with one of my colleagues to set up a programme of advanced practice and critical care modules here at Warwick. These were aimed at a variety of healthcare professionals looking to develop their skills and roles, including staff from the West Midlands Ambulance Service and local acute trusts. These have proved really popular and started attracting people from all disciplines and from across the UK, which led to the creation of our ACCP masters.

How does your role work now?

I work full time for the NHS as a Nurse Consultant in Critical Care and Advanced Practice. In my role I spend 50% of my time in the clinical area and the other 50% is spent on activities such as education and service development. I also lead an advanced practice strategy for my Trust, training healthcare professionals to work at a higher level and supplement the multidisciplinary workforce. I work at Warwick for one day per week as course director for the ACCP masters and act as module leader for our Advanced Emergency Practice and Critical Care Transfer modules within the ACCP course.

What professions do students on this course come from?

It’s quite varied - we have nurses who are working towards advanced critical care practitioner roles and also paramedics, including those looking to develop their skills to join the Air Ambulance Service.

What makes the course unique?

The course is taught by clinicians who are actually doing the job and many are clinical experts in their field, meaning it’s really easy for our students to connect with what they’re saying and apply it to their practice. We focus a lot on evidence- and scenario-based teaching and offer a variety of lectures, workshops and simulation in clinical skills labs using high fidelity manikins. The course is a great opportunity for networking, too, as the students come to us from across the country from a variety of backgrounds and organisations. Finally, the Warwick course is one of only a few ACCP courses recognised by the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.

Do you have any advice for people considering taking the course?

Anyone considering taking this course needs to expect it to be hard work! Despite that, our students do seem to enjoy it, particularly the mix of teaching styles and the fact it’s clinically focused. Its important that students are able to identify a clinical supervisor or a mentor available who can support them in practice, and for them to be able to access clinical placements if necessary to expand their experience and exposure to different clinical situations.

What do you enjoy most about teaching on the course?

I really enjoy all the modules because the students are really keen to learn and improve their knowledge and professional practice. You meet a range of people from different backgrounds and professions who all bring different skills and experience and they are really committed to succeed.

Sarah Quinton