My name is James Currell, and I’m an economics student from Huddersfield University currently on a placement year with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ Costing Team.
During my time so far, I’ve discovered that the world of NHS finance can quite often be daunting for clinical staff as well as students, and finding a way to engage with them in a manner that can generate real interest and excitement is an important goal. To do this, finance professionals work hard to provide information that has impact, is easy to understand and which sends a powerful message.
Achieving this key challenge is particularly important to our Costing Team, and working along-side clinicians in providing evidence to support their work is something that I’ve really enjoyed. It’s been the most challenging aspect of my job, more so than mastering the technical aspects!
A recent project I’ve had the pleasure of working on evidenced the improvements generated from introducing a new pathway for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) patients who can develop swallowing problems leading to malnutrition, aspiration pneumonia, dehydration and death. The new pathway introduced a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) to provide assisted nutrition directly into the stomach by use of a feeding tube.
My involvement has supported neurologist Dr Agum Jung and her team with gathering, analysing and interpreting patient level data to compare patients with a PEG insertion against those without.
It has improved my capability of presenting information immensely, helped me to learn that it needs to be tailored to the ‘needs of the audience’ and equipped me with new found confidence and skills that I can now deploy in future projects. This wouldn’t have been possible without receiving the excellent clinical input I did from Dr Jung and her team to fully understand the data I collected. It really highlighted how crucial clinical engagement is to the success of a project such as this. Our collaboration resulted in a piece of work I am proud of (and which will be presented nationally and included within a published paper), and one that will hopefully lead to improved care for patients.
These sorts of experiences are particularly important to a placement student, and I hope that by sharing my experience it shows how we all can play a role in improving patient care. I am immensely privileged to be working within the NHS, and my experiences so far have left me feeling that this is a worthwhile career to pursue after completing my final year.