Interested in applying for the NHS Digital Academy, but not 100% sure just yet? 
Read Philipa Winter's blog below, as she shares her experience. Phillipa is 
currently Chief Information Officer for the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust 
and was part of the Digital Academy Cohort 1.

I have worked in the NHS for 24 years, qualifying as an Occupational Therapist in 1994. I have had a variety of experiences in my clinical and managerial career and I especially enjoy roles with change/programme management. The technology was always a theme in the background both as a clinician using it to facilitate function and as a manager in using data for performance and outcome measures.

As a qualified Occupational Therapist, a vital mandate from the College of OT and the HCPC was to certify my continued development and professionalism. When starting as Chief Information Officer (CIO), it was strange not to have similar mandated requirements opposed on me, to demonstrate my abilities to function in such a responsible role within health care.

As a CIO, I became a member of the British Computer Society (BCS) and FedIP, as it was unfamiliar for me to not belong to a professional body. I completed Prince 2, MSP, Agile and ITIL accreditation in the search for developing my own knowledge and skills; however, this did not fulfil the craving I desired to demonstrate my credibility in such a responsible role.

Throughout my career, I have participated in many leadership courses and self-awareness training, completed a coaching course and a master’s module in Organisational Change, but still wanted more.

I championed professionalism within informatics and have developed a strong relationship with the North West Skills Informatics Development Network (NWISDN), whose values and beliefs are close to my own in sharing learning, professional development and networking to improve healthcare. So, considering CHIME in the United States, I believed we were missing this form of accreditation and association in the UK.

Seeing the development of the NHS Digital Academy here in the UK was exciting and having the opportunity to apply was something I did not want to miss, as I believed it would fulfil what I was looking for.

I was nervous, as it had been a while since completing formal academia; I have dyslexia and dysgraphia, so I was concerned about my ability to fulfil the course to my own high expectations. This was an unnecessary concern and the course tutors have been supportive of my learning style and requirements. So please do not be put off if you have any challenges to your learning!

Currently, in the thick of module three of six, I can truly say the course has been invaluable, challenging and rewarding. Not only have I gained a fabulous network of one hundred colleagues from across health and social care, with clinical and informatics backgrounds. I have a lifelong peer group who are supportive, challenging, knowledge fountains and friends who I can call upon.

To date, the programme and the modules have given me an extensive strategic perspective when thinking about the global health economy and the impact on population health and implementing change. Currently, I am learning about technology strategy and systems implementation.

In all the modules, you are encouraged to challenge your own practice and that of others, take into account your own application, critique, and review how this may alter with the tools and learning achieved throughout the academy programme.

I would strongly encourage both digital leaders and clinicians in both health and social care to apply. This is a tremendous opportunity and I am proud to be taking part in the co-creation of the NHS Digital Academy as one of the founding applicants in Cohort 1.

The Academy does require a significant amount of personal study and its key to keep abreast of the content to maintain a good work-life balance.  However, after modifying my learning style and settling into the programme, using the expertise and support of the tutors and my peer group, I truly believe I will have grown as an informatics and digital leader.  I will have challenged my own thinking to develop deeper knowledge and skills, which will enhance my practice and provide me with the accreditation I have craved since giving up my professional status as a clinician.

Therefore, I appeal to you to apply and be part of this fabulous movement called The NHS Digital Academy!

Applications open until Friday 26th October and further information can be found here or get in touch via nhsdigitalacademy@imperial.ac.uk.