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A brief encounter…leads to Associate Fellowships

02 Dec 2020 | Advance HE When Helen met Sally…while sharing a table at an event, Helen Yewdall from an NHS Foundation Trust was introduced to Fellowship for clinical practice educators by Advance HE’s Professor Sally Bradley.

Sally: Sharing a table at York St John University graduation lunch back in 2018 led to a conversation with Helen Yewdall, Cross Professional Clinical Development Team Lead at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust. Helen was looking for some stimulating CPD activity for her practice educators and immediately I thought about Fellowships, something I had discussed with colleagues at the NET Conference and with colleagues in health.

This was the start of a journey and many email exchanges to create a small pilot project that would ultimately lead to Associate Fellowship. What would be the value of Fellowship for clinical educators? How much would it cost the NHS Trust? Was this value for money, and worth the time invested in creating a reflective account of practice?

Eventually, three willing volunteers stepped forward: two physiotherapists and an occupational therapist, all working with students from York St John University and Sheffield Hallam University. We spent a morning together exploring how they worked with students, creating the best environment in which the students could learn, how they planned the learning pathways with the students, and importantly, how they knew their approach was successful and efficient.

They shared the CPD which they gained from both universities and how they recognised the academic requirements alongside their own professional practice within their field. The conversations were lively and stimulating. And then the challenge…writing it down and reflecting.

Whilst Associate Fellowship isn’t a long application, it is still challenging to explain professional practice experience in “educational speak”. How much of the pedagogy they had learnt about was required? How much of the professional practice literature should be referenced? Questions which every applicant asks themselves but when you are immersed in this it feels very alien.

However, rolling the clocks forward nearly two years we now have three successful Associate Fellows. Fellowships are about gaining the recognition for teaching and supporting learning; these three Clinical Educators have certainly achieved that! But what did it mean to the practice educators and what does it mean for clinical practice going forwards?


Helen: I had no idea who this joyous, enthusiastic lady was when I first sat next to Sally at the York St John graduation but out of a shared enthusiasm for recognising great practice in teaching at the clinical ‘coal face’, we ended up plotting to achieve something that might just put clinical educators in Northern Lincolnshire on the map.

As a division we feel it is essential to recognise the achievement of our staff and the opportunity Sally presented me was too good to miss! It is too often said “it’s just what we do - we aren’t anything special” however, every clinician remembers that one educator that really impacted them.

Our educators are essential to shaping the workforce of the future and they are shaping everyone’s future experience of healthcare. Achieving Associate Fellowship status really acknowledges the creativity, dedication and skill which goes into delivering great learning opportunities.


Occupational Therapist Emma Robinson says, “It’s nice to be recognised for the difference you make. We used to get paid for taking students and though this is not what motivated us it was recognition of our skills and experience, the opportunity to be recognised in a different way is great.

“There is something hugely rewarding in growing the next generation of Therapists. However, to have recognition in the form of achieving Associate Fellowship from Advance HE is really something we are proud of.”

Physiotherapists Hollie Iggleden and Michelle Fowler said, “It’s been a really positive experience being recognised for the many years of high quality mentorship of students. We always have good feedback from students but this time it is nice to be recognised on a more formal platform.”

Helen says, “Continuing delivering clinical placements during these challenging times means we really rely on the exceptional skills of our educators. I hope that in supporting them to gain their Associate Fellowship we are showing as an organisation how proud we are of their creativity and resilience.

“I’m proud of what Emma, Hollie and Michelle have achieved and appreciative of the support that Sally offered. It’s amazing what can come out of a conversation over lunch!”

Fellowship demonstrates a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education. Find out if Associate Fellowship is for you

Find out which category of Fellowship is the closest match to your current practice with the Fellowship Category Tool


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