Recognising health and social care professionals who improve care

The NICE Fellows and Scholars scheme recognises the work and promise of health and social care professionals aiming to improve quality of care. It provides the opportunity to learn about and get involved with the inner workings NICE, to network with likeminded advocates of evidence-based practice, and it contributes towards professional development.

This year, NICE awarded 10 Fellowships and 10 Scholarships to professionals including consultant doctors, research fellows, physiotherapists and GPs.

NICE Fellows

NICE Fellows are senior health care leaders who act as ambassadors for NICE’s work at regional and national levels, and among their professional groups and peers. Each Fellowship lasts for 3 years, allowing Fellows to build networks of influential professionals who support NICE in the implementation of its guidance.

In previous years NICE Fellows have a collected awards, published papers, had their work featured in publications, and given presentations on national platforms. Fellows from recent cohorts have taken guidance processes through NICE accreditation and led tutorials to support GPs who are practising in Wales.

Jane Viner is among this year’s intake of NICE Fellows. Jane is a Director of Nursing at South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and is currently working alongside partners to develop an integrated health and social care system. During her Fellowship Jane plans to use NICE’s quality standards to improve the patient experience of community care services. She hopes to develop a tool that assesses patient experience that can be applied across the health and social care system.

NICE Scholars

NICE Scholarships are one-year opportunities for qualified health and social care professionals to find out about the inner workings of NICE and undertake a supported improvement project, related to NICE guidance, within their local organisation.

NICE Scholars are supported in their project through a series of workshops, access to a mentor, and contact with the expert teams at NICE. NICE Scholarships are typically awarded to specialist registrars, senior nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals, service improvement leads, public health and social care specialists and health service managers.

The latest intake of NICE Scholars includes registrars in paediatrics, neurosurgery and obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as a physiotherapist and an academic clinical fellow in GP practice.

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE, said: “Our Fellows and Scholars Programme is a unique opportunity for motivated and dynamic individuals across the country to exchange ideas and get support from NICE in driving up the quality of care in their local and professional communities. I would like to offer my congratulations to our new Fellows and Scholars and I warmly welcome them to the Institute.”

Q & A with NICE Fellow Elizabeth Robb

“What is your professional background?”

“I qualified as a dentist from UCL many years ago and after working for a short time in the UK started on a ‘work my way round the world’ trip. My first stop was Zimbabwe and I got no further. I spent over 25 years there working as a dentist in both the public and private sector before spending 6 years setting up Childline Zimbabwe.”

“The family moved to the UK some 12 years ago. I am now employed by the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust as a senior Special Care dentist. The work is very varied as I spend my working week either in the surgery, on domiciliary visits or at the local hospital where I do some theatre lists.”

“Why did you to apply to be a NICE Fellow?”

“Not long after I had finished a Diploma in Dental Health Services Leadership and Management with FGDP (UK) at the Royal College of Surgeons, I was approached by the course director who asked me if I would be interested in applying for a Fellowship with NICE, especially as there had not been any dental Fellows in the past. I went online, became very interested and applied. The rest is history.”

“What did you hope to get out of the scheme?”

“It is safe to say that the general knowledge of the dental profession about NICE and its activities was very poor. My major goal during the term of my Fellowship was to act as an ambassador for NICE to the dental profession, raising the profile and relevance of the organisation to the profession at large.

“My own clinical field whilst very varied is fairly narrow, and I have always been interested in the bigger picture of both medicine and dentistry. I also have fairly strong views about the mouth belonging in the body and not being seen as a separate entity. Recent research is showing many links between the health of the oral cavity and the health of the body as a whole and I wanted to highlight this.”

“What have been your favourite experiences during your tenure here at NICE?”

“Undoubtedly the piloting and launch of the NICE Student Champions scheme at Bristol Dental School. The scheme was designed to teach student medics and pharmacists in particular to use the evidence services part of the NICE website during their studies, which they would then carry forward in their future careers. Work is now ongoing to take this forward to all dental schools in the UK. In addition, there have been articles in the major dental press on the work of NICE, and I have been active in pressing for a review of a guideline of major relevance to the profession.”

“How would you describe your experience of working with NICE? “

“It has been a wonderful three years, the support of everyone at NICE at all levels has been excellent. It has also been one of the most efficient organisations I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with in my career. I have been very impressed.”

“What would you say to any professionals who are considering joining the scheme?”

“Absolutely go for it. It broadens horizons, the workshops are of the highest calibre with some excellent speakers, and the opportunity to attend the NICE annual conference is a real bonus. Like everything else, you get out of it what you put into it, but the return on my investment was very worthwhile. It’s the best thing I have done in years.”