Gaining a year of professional experience in the field I hope to work in was invaluable

Harriet Moore
Harriet Moore
Placement organisation: Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield
BSc Psychology with Employment Experience
Harriet spent her placement year working as a researcher in the Neurology Department at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. Spending a year on placement allowed Harriet to be involved in NHS research into Multiple Sclerosis and gain professional experience in the field that she hopes to work in in the future.
Harriet Moore

What made you decide to study at Sheffield? 

I was keen to attend a Russell Group university and had heard promising things about Sheffield. I attended an open day, and everyone was so friendly and I felt welcome. I really liked the green spaces, creativity, and diversity that Sheffield has to offer, which meant I felt that it would be a place where I would enjoy studying. 

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

The various neuro-clinical modules have been my favourites. I’m glad we have so much freedom in choosing our final year modules, as I have been able to tailor my choices specifically to my interests. Guest speakers were also a bonus: they gave different perspectives and insights. Some examples of these talks include gaining a first-hand account of the experience of someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Another enjoyable aspect was the group project we completed in second year. It was refreshing to work on an assignment as a team, which eased the workload greatly. Finally, having the option to do a placement year was a brilliant opportunity. I have been able to gain experience in the workplace and to be involved in NHS research. This has given me first-hand experience in the field I hope to specialise in.

What scientific skills have you developed throughout your course?

Learning how to conduct research has been particularly valuable, especially as my placement was research-based. Additionally, being taught how to analyse data using statistics software (SPSS) has enabled me to become quite proficient in statistics. 

What transferable skills have you developed during your course?

My experiences of completing various written assignments, such as reports, essays, and academic posters has allowed me to improve my written communication. Additionally, learning to work in groups of people you aren’t familiar with is a useful skill, which will stand me in good stead for my future career.

Where did you go for your placement and what was your role?

I worked in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield (just next to the university). I worked as a researcher in the Neurology Department and got the opportunity to assist with some of the tasks nurses undertook with patients.

What sort of things have you done on your placement?

I undertook two main projects. My first project was to analyse data and write a research paper evaluating ‘Predictors of Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis’. This involved obtaining a raw data set and preparing it for analysis in SPSS, a statistics software program taught to students in first and second year. I was then required to write a paper discussing my findings, which I hope to see published soon. 

My second project involved collecting data to investigate the ‘Long-Term Unmet Needs of People with Multiple Sclerosis’. During this project. I met and interacted with patients in the Neuro-Day Care Unit of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital Neurology Department. I will be using this data to write my dissertation in the 2021/2022 academic year. This research will also assess the reliability and validity of the questionnaire used, as it has been adapted from a stroke questionnaire.

In addition to these projects, I had the opportunity to shadow neurology clinics and lightly assist with some procedures in the Neuro-Day Care Unit, such as Lumbar Punctures and Muscle Biopsies. 

What skills have you developed during your placement?

My professional communication skills have developed significantly during my time working in the NHS. Despite building strong camaraderie with some colleagues, it was still essential to maintain professional relationships. Self-direction is another skill I have developed throughout my placement year. Due to the nature of my placement, I held responsibility for choosing the specific timings of my projects. Furthermore, the consultant I was working with worked in both the Royal Hallamshire and Northern General Hospitals, which meant that these projects really relied on my organisational skills!

Another skill that I built upon during my placement was my ability to conduct research: having the opportunity to oversee two research projects has given me a vast amount of experience and knowledge in a short amount of time, which I hope to utilise in future projects. Finally, I have built on my previous knowledge by learning a lot more about data analysis. It was necessary to ‘clean’ the raw data provided, and then run it through the SPSS statistical software. Thanks to the support of an NHS statistician, I now feel more confident when it comes to analysing data.

What have you enjoyed most about the placement year?

The most enjoyable part of this year has been working on the Neuro Day-Care Unit as I got to meet so many colleagues and build rapport with patients. Each day was different, which made the experience even more unique. Having the opportunity to be included in several research papers before graduating is also something I’m really proud of and grateful for.

How do you think the placement year will help your career?

Gaining a year of professional experience in the field I hope to work in was invaluable. I now have first-hand insight into what my average day could be like. Furthermore, I have learnt huge amounts from the work environment, my colleagues, and the placement objectives. This has helped me decide on my future direction of study and has given me skills to transfer to future work situations.

What do you hope to do after your degree?

I’m planning to build on the knowledge gained throughout my time in Sheffield, by completing a Masters degree in Neuropsychology. I am currently considering courses at Sheffield, Bristol and Utrecht in the Netherlands. I hope to eventually work as a neuropsychologist, potentially in neurodegeneration or neuro-trauma. I would also be keen to conduct more research.

What would you say to a prospective student considering studying BSc Psychology with Employment Experience at Sheffield?

Go for it! Psychology offers such a wide range of graduate prospects. A Bachelor of Science degree opens doors to many postgraduate opportunities, in multiple fields. The course itself offers a wide range of topics within psychology, so there will always be something of interest. Assessment is varied – via coursework and exams, so everyone can excel, and you are given a reasonable level of freedom regarding what you study.

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