Tom Malone completed his MSc in Forensic Psychology and Mental Health in 2017 and we thought we’d check in to see how life is treating him since graduating. Here he gives a very honest account of his time on the course and where it has taken him, even though it may be the road less travelled…
Having handed in my thesis and finished my Master’s, I quickly left Manchester after having soon found employment with Norfolk Constabulary as a researcher. This job was really fun: I loved being in an around crime data and using the analytical skills I had acquired while at Manchester in an applied setting.
As with any data-driven role, there are a lot of statutory requirements you need to adhere to. The most common requirement you will see from the police is the annual crime statistics release made by the Office for National Statistics – a lot of my job with the police was making sure that these sorts of submissions were made on time.
As I became more experienced within the role, I was tasked with compiling larger tasks that had more of an immediate impact on front-line policing. One report that I was really proud of covered the sale of knives to persons under the age of 18. This report focused mostly on the areas of Norwich, Kings “Lynn and Great Yarmouth, and was compiled on behalf of Norfolk Trading Standards (NTS).
The report was commissioned following a number of reports of young people being sold knives from some major retailers and with Norfolk experiencing a spike in knife-related violence, NTS was keen to do what they could to limit young peoples access to weaponry.
The reason I like doing this report so much was that it had an immediate (though unintentional) impact on real-life crime and identifying where it might take place. Norfolk & Suffolk police then commissioned a larger piece of work focusing on helping young people in more deprived areas stay away from knives. My report was used to help identify areas most at risk from knife-related crime.
From here I moved to work for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) where I am currently working as an Information Analyst. I’m the sole analyst in charge of the data for all operating theatres and work closely with operational management who are in charge of running the hospital.
My day can vary from providing a colleague with all the appendectomy cases he/she has done in the last two years, to having meetings that try and help improve the situations of patients on the waiting list for treatment.
At the moment, the focus of my job is around the utilisation of theatres – in short: I am calculating surgeon-specific utilization figures to see how many extra cases we as a hospital can perform on top of those we already carry out. The reason for this is because the NNUH is merging with two other trusts to form a Norfolk-wide organisation to cover all emergency cases.
I use A LOT of statistics for this job, all the way from the basic aggregation of daily cases loads to using complex formulas to figure out the hospital’s overall demands and overall capacity to meet that demand.
One piece of advice I would give to other students is not to be scared if something clearly isn’t for you: I found this some way through my degree, when I came to what we call ‘Stage 2’ which basically means gaining experience as a trainee psychologist and obtaining a chartership with the British Psychological Society.
I came to realise that, in all honesty, I might not have the patience and/or skill-set to embark on a career path where my main function would be to provide advice and guidance, especially when many simply might not take notice right away if ever. I felt as though I would be adding to their vulnerability or putting them at a disadvantage when they could be seeing someone better suited to that role.
So, although the chartership is the more common route for most people in the field, I still gained valuable experience from the course such as having an analytical mindset and developing my ability to write quality reports – fundamental skills that I still use in my current field everyday!