Master’s? PhD? No, I returned to the University of Manchester to TEACH

For many students the idea of returning back to University to study a master’s after completing their undergraduate degrees is a no-brainer. For some, returning again to do a PhD is also tempting. But, what about returning to become a lecturer? Well, that’s exactly what 1998 graduate, Karen Heggs, has done and it’s something she believes has always been on the agenda. Below, discover the different courses that she’s taken and is still taking as she bids to become the best teacher and lecturer she can possibly be…

karen heggs

I’ve had an association with the University of Manchester since 1998 when I completed a Diploma in Professional Studies in Nursing. Eight years later I then returned to the university to tackle a BSc in Nursing Practice before going on to study a master’s and a PGDip elsewhere.

Back to 1998 and upon my completion of the Diploma in Professional Studies in Nursing i started working in clinical practice, as a qualified nurse, across a range of specialities including Emergency Nursing and more recently Health visiting. The majority of my clinical career was spent in Specialist Palliative Care, where I worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist for 9 years.

I then made the decision to move into lecturing in 2015, as I have always engaged in teaching as part of my clinical roles and it felt like a natural progression for me. I was also inspired to engage in teaching by the lecturers that I met through my ongoing study as part of my professional development.

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I joined the university as a lecturer in nursing in September 2015 and as a new academic, I completed the Faculty based New Academic’s Programme (NAP); a fantastic programme that really helped me to develop and grow as an academic, with focus on teaching, research and personal development. The programme really helped me to feel more confident in my new role and was also a great opportunity to meet colleagues from across the faculty from a wide range of different disciplines.

Completing  the NAP encouraged me to consider my teaching further and I was delighted to be offered a place on the newly developed PG Cert in Teaching and Learning in Biology, Medicine and Health. The programme is pioneering in its approach to developing teaching and learning within healthcare disciplines.

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The programme attracts colleagues from a range of professions and specialities. I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to colleagues from across the faculty from other health disciplines and international PhD students who are also completing the course.

The course offers a great deal of flexibility, with students completing units adapted to their needs. As a lecturer, I am actively teaching on a regular basis and the practical unit ‘Developing Teaching and Facilitating Learning in Practice’, encourages me to feel supported in the development of my teaching practice. Through feedback from peers and my mentor I am able to challenge my thoughts and perceptions of teaching and learning through reflection on my experiences in my developing portfolio.

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Reflection has always been a part of my nursing practice and it has been refreshing to identify the value that reflection can have on my ongoing personal development and my own teaching practice. As a group of educators in the ‘Reflective Teaching and Learning in Practice’ unit, we have been actively encouraged to reflect on our views, perceptions and opinions about teaching and learning within higher education. This was incredibly insightful – stepping back and taking time to consider my own personal experiences of teaching and learning and the impact of this on my own teaching practice.  I was also able to identify the reciprocal nature of teaching and the adult learner through reflection and critical discussion.

My study on the programme so far has really helped to increase my confidence in the classroom and lecture theatre. I have felt encouraged to try new approaches in my teaching; challenging my teaching practice and seeking feedback to facilitate my growth and development as an educator. This has been helped greatly by the very supportive and expert programme team who have been so supportive; their passion for teaching and learning has definitely had a positive impact on me.


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