Can you tell us about your current role and where you work?
I work as an Alcohol Advisor within the Alcohol Care Team at the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust. My responsibilities include identifying patients struggling with alcohol dependency, meticulously discerning underlying factors contributing to their dependence, providing them with concise impactful advice, and facilitating their referral to community-based services. I provide support to patients during their hospital stay through regular ward visits and prepare patient review notes which are shared with the multi-disciplinary team. I also generate data that offers insights into our patient demographics.
What is your favourite part of your role?
Engaging with patients, listening to their unique narratives and hearing them wholeheartedly commit to leading healthier lives. I find satisfaction in knowing that I have played a part in empowering them to make a positive choice - all while approaching the situation with empathy and without any form of judgment which is deeply rewarding. Being a part of a programme that provides interventions for alcohol dependence, a significant public health issue in society and consequently saving bed days, preventing readmissions and reducing costs of providing healthcare is a strong motivation in this role.
Can you give us an overview of your career path into public health?
Initially, I pursued a degree in Microbiology. Following two internships, I discovered my preference for frontline work which prompted my transition into a Customer Support role. Whilst in that role, I discovered a profound passion for supporting individuals and offering practical solutions.
This passion spurred me to pursue a Master of Public Health program at the University of Bradford, while also volunteering with Mind in Bradford. Here, I engaged with individuals, providing encouragement and support as they embarked on their journeys towards healthier living.
After graduation, I got my current role where I am focused on advocating the adoption of healthier lifestyles. I collaborate closely with multi-disciplinary teams to facilitate positive health outcomes for our patients.
What support could have helped with this?
I constantly receive encouragement and support from my friends and family. The NHS Trust has been very supportive, providing me the opportunity to pursue my passion as well as on-the job training and structured training programs to improve my competency and performance. Sincere appreciation to my colleagues and managers for making this journey rewarding for me.
In your role, how do you support/improve the public’s health and wellbeing?
I operate within a hospital environment, closely collaborating with members of the multidisciplinary team. Collectively, we identify patients who may be alcohol dependent or at risk of dependency. I approach these patients with empathy. Employing motivational interviewing, I seek to understand the underlying causes of excessive alcohol consumption thus allowing me to offer personalised interventions.
I direct patients to relevant services who provide them with the necessary treatment or support..
Some patients may require counselling on the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption on their liver. I suggest strategies to enhance their overall health and wellbeing, thereby equipping them to make informed and healthful choices, and ultimately reducing return visits to the hospital.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing within your role right now?
The persisting stigma associated with alcohol dependency leads to patients' reluctance to seek support within the community. I come across patients who are in denial and decline to participate in discussions regarding their alcohol consumption.
Certain ethnic minority communities view alcohol consumption as culturally sensitive which makes it challenging for individuals struggling with dependency to seek necessary intervention.
What area(s) of public health are you the most passionate about?
I have a keen interest in policy formulation, advocating for the implementation of policies that foster healthcare equity, mitigate health disparities and emphasise the importance of health promotion.
What advice would you give to someone considering joining the wider public health workforce?
Stay receptive to learning and collaboration, have a sincere interest in advancing and endorsing health. It's worth noting that many individuals embark on this journey without an initial degree in public health. Your sincere commitment to enhancing lives is a good place to start.