The annual course, supported by expert academics and UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) staff, covers the epidemiological principles, ethics and policy issues involved in health screening.
Two of the most recent graduates from the course are Jo Priestley, an Antenatal & Newborn Screening Midwife based in the North East of England, and Laura Macdermott, Programme Coordinator with Antenatal Screening Wales. Both Jo and Laura were successful in securing a bursary to support attendance on the course.
Both found the learning extremely useful for their roles and would encourage other screening professionals to take up the opportunity if they can.
I was a little apprehensive after being accepted on to the course. It’s a long time since I wrote academically and I’ve never studied at master’s level, but my worries were completely unfounded.
The course was efficiently delivered by a range of academic staff and supported by staff from the UK NSC, all experts in their own field, for whom no question was unreasonable. The shared knowledge and experience of all those on the course was astounding – there was so much to be learnt from fellow clinicians and health professionals, commissioners, public health and QA colleagues and charity workers.
It’s a very intense week with vast amounts of information to absorb and digest. But the topics are all aimed at developing an understanding of the ethos of a screening programme; when screening is appropriate and when it is not, why screening can be such an emotive subject and how much planning goes into introducing, delivering and monitoring a successful programme.
I am passionate about screening so for me it is important to understand how screening programmes are sanctioned, introduced and evaluated, in order that I can share that understanding locally. We can only deliver services of the highest quality if we have awareness and understanding of the foundations and fundamentals of all screening programmes.
I would encourage anyone involved in screening to attend a course like this. You will meet a wonderful range of people from all backgrounds and you will come away with valuable insights into, and appreciation of, the complexities of screening that you just wouldn’t get anywhere else.
I had worked as a radiographer and sonographer for 15 years before making the move from delivering the ultrasound aspects of antenatal screening to becoming Programme Coordinator with Antenatal Screening Wales in April 2022.
After being in post for 18 months I was fortunate enough to be successful in applying for a UK NSC course bursary. Any nerves I had about attending the course were quashed on my first day, I was relieved to be surrounded by a wonderful mix of people from varied backgrounds who brought with them different insights into screening, based on both professional and personal experiences.
Beforehand, I was most concerned about the statistical elements of the course. And while I did not leave as a proficient statistician, I found that the lectures were targeted appropriately to the group and I left feeling considerably more comfortable with the use of statistics in practice, and incredibly grateful for statisticians themselves. I particularly enjoyed the discussions around ethics. Coming from a background in antenatal screening this is always an incredibly emotive issue, and the discussions on the course further confirmed the importance of informed choice.
Overall, I really enjoyed the course and would highly recommend this learning to any professional involved in the delivery or coordination of screening. I plan to take what I have learnt into my professional role, and continue my development and understanding of screening, its applications and considerations by progressing to a Masters in the future.
The health screening module will run again in November 2024 and we will again hope to be able to offer a small number of bursaries. Watch this space for details.
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