Developing my career as a social care professional with an online course

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RGU alumna Glenda shares how after a long and successful career as an Occupation Therapist, she found the perfect course at RGU to support her career development: the Strategic Service Planning and Delivery in Health and Social Care.

As a busy working mum, this online course was the perfect fit for her who had been looking for this opportunity in vain before finding RGU. Read more in her blog.

My path towards further studies

My name is Glenda, I began my Health and Social Care career over 30 years ago. I qualified as an Occupational Therapist (OT) in 1993, joining Strathclyde Regional Council as a Community Occupational Therapist. I practiced as an OT clinician for six years before taking up a management role within a social work fieldwork team.

Thereafter, I specialised in learning disability services, becoming Head of Learning Disability Services prior to a career break for my first child. Part-time working and another year’s break for my second daughter saw me move after 19 years from fieldwork services into a central strategic role, overseeing the transformation of Learning Disability Day Services in Glasgow, before moving to a planning role within Older People’s Services.

From having a steady career progression for thirteen years, I found myself on a career plateau as I tried to balance work and family life. Like every parent, compromise has to be found when trying to maintain a career and bring up a family (without trying to sacrifice either).

I felt a necessity to undertake further study – not through any expectations from my employer but from a desire to prove to myself that I could learn more and undertaking a degree to provide evidence of that achievement. I was keen to expand my knowledge of public policy and I did want to study a subject that would benefit my work, particularly restoring my confidence and appetite around public sector reform.

Finding the perfect course in social care at RGU

The search was on, then, to identify a course that could be part-time, ideally virtual and in a relevant subject area. After a year of research, I realised there was nothing that really ticked the bill. An MA in another university in Public Policy (at the cost of £10k) was the nearest I could find and whilst at some levels this appealed to me, my line manager at the time robustly dissuaded me from what he felt would be a false investment in an outdated course.

And then, like all the good movies, an email from RGU popped into my inbox describing a new course on Health and Social Care Service Planning. I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading at first as it not only ticked all my boxes but was outrageously relevant to my own work. Even better, on signing up for the course, I had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship which covered half of my fees.

The highlights of my time studying Strategic Service Planning and Delivery

RGU’s online technology to support virtual courses was excellent. This became particularly evident during Covid when I learned of really poor student experience at other universities.

Covid itself proved a significant challenge for the whole cohort. We all worked in health and social care and it became increasingly hard to meet the needs of our stretched services and the demands of our studies. However, this illustrated one of the strengths of the course: our fantastic course leader who advocated for our course to be temporarily suspended without the loss of academic status to course participants.

The other highlights were the breadth and depth of the variety of subjects that the course covered. Some were more challenging than others but all of them had a relevance within a health and social care setting. It was also fantastic to meet colleagues from other parts of Scotland and share experiences not just of coursework but also of our working lives.

Some words of advice

It would be naïve of me to suggest that a master’s degree in of itself constitutes a higher appreciation within the workplace. However, completing the master’s not only gave me a sense of accomplishment and renewed confidence, but also provided a stronger platform to horizon scan for different employment opportunities. I would do it all again without any hesitation!

Glenda Cook

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