With the academic year underway, undergraduate health sciences programmes including physiotherapy, podiatry, diagnostic radiography and imaging have now joined Ulster University’s multi-disciplinary centre of healthcare excellence, as over 900 students make the move from Jordanstown to new specialist learning spaces created at the heart of Ulster University’s Derry~Londonderry campus. New and returning students are supported by over 80 existing UU staff who have relocated, and with new colleagues joining the highly skilled staff team.
The transfer of health sciences further expands frontline healthcare course provision at Ulster University’s city campus, with the programmes offering current and new students the opportunity to begin and to develop their careers in this progressive multi-disciplinary healthcare environment on campus. The health sciences programmes are now delivered alongside the Paramedic Science teaching provision and the School of Medicine – both now in their second year - and the long-standing and multi-award-winning School of Nursing. This degree of integration within higher education is unique in the UK with staff and students working and studying alongside each other, creating connections and fostering the teamwork essential in health and social care.
Welcoming staff and students to their new place of work and study, Executive Dean Professor Carol Curran said:
Our popular health sciences programmes offer current and new students the opportunity to develop their careers in this progressive multi-disciplinary healthcare environment on campus. Over recent months as we gave returning students and offer holders the chance to join us for tours of campus and the city it was so clear that the opportunity to learn alongside the other healthcare disciplines based here is exciting and motivational for them.
Bringing these programmes together on one campus reflects the NHS strategic emphasis on the development of multi-disciplinary teams and rich opportunities for interprofessional learning. Together we will provide the next generation of highly skilled health professionals so urgently required to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce and patients.
Our health sciences staff and students bring so much skill and insight to our wider healthcare family at Derry~Londonderry as well as benefitting from the proximity to other teaching, research and professional colleagues.
The Derry~Londonderry campus also hosts and operates one of only three Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) competency test centres in the UK, established to increase nursing capacity and help alleviate pressures in the health sector.
Following extensive refurbishment to create specialist teaching spaces, health sciences students and staff are now based at the heart of the campus in existing premises alongside the Rock Road main car park and extending from the top of the site towards the river.
Neil Guckian, Chief Executive, Western Health and Social Care Trust added:
The calibre of highly skilled students who graduate from Ulster University and go on to join our healthcare workforce in the North West and throughout Northern Ireland is high. I have been impressed by the bright, caring, skilled students I have met here today and indeed those Ulster graduates I have crossed paths with, professionally in clinical settings. I wish each of these students working together across all disciplines, every success as they set out on the next stage of their educational journey towards a career in healthcare, I commend them all for choosing a career in health and social care.
Head of the School of Health Sciences, Professor Danny Kerr added:
The School of Health Sciences staff and students bring a wealth of expertise and perspectives to the wider healthcare team at Derry~Londonderry, with a critical role to play in the overall patient journey through primary, secondary and community care. Our health sciences staff and students will contribute so much to the overall learning outcomes for all those who will go on to work in our healthcare system.
With the presence of sport and social work at Derry~Londonderry also, this extensive breadth of disciplines across health and social care and wellbeing will deliver joined up learning, with Health Sciences contributing their clinical expertise, skill and care to so many essential moments in the patient journey, from diagnostics to aftercare and rehabilitation. Over the years the school has had so much positive feedback from members of the public who attend our Podiatry clinics, and we know this will be a very welcome addition to the community in Derry~Londonderry.
The School of Health Sciences Podiatry clinics are open to the general public on the Derry~Londonderry Campus from on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The student-led clinics are supervised by the university’s Podiatry teaching staff, offering a range of treatments including general treatment, musculoskeletal assessment, nail surgery and dry needling. A nominal charge is in place for all treatments to cover the cost of consumables and outreach to the local community. Appointments can be booked by telephone on 02871 675455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Settling into university life, Orlagh Mullan, a year 1 Physiotherapy student from Derry, said:
Working within the healthcare system is something I have always felt drawn towards, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a mature student, it has been a positive opportunity to challenge myself with something completely different.
The Physiotherapy course at Ulster University offers a nationally renowned and celebrated learning experience from highly qualified and passionate staff. There are a diverse range of learning activities and opportunities, which all seek to produce the best physiotherapists and healthcare professionals. The course provides fantastic opportunities to engage with students across all the health sciences - to learn about the role they play and to build relationships with people and professionals that I hope to work with in the years to come.
We have been so warmly welcomed to the Derry~Londonderry campus. As a native of the city, I have been delighted to see people of all backgrounds coming together within the fantastic campus to begin their education journey and to embrace everything our city has to offer.
Continuing his studies on the University’s Derry~Londonderry campus, second year Speech and Language Therapy student Jacob Sheerin said:
I wanted to study speech and language therapy as my mum is a practising Speech and Language Therapist, and I had always been interested in the work that she did in paediatrics.
I really enjoy the biology segments of the course, particularly when we were studying human anatomy. I also really enjoy learning from guest lectures and lectures with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
Derry~Londonderry is a great campus with great facilities, particularly the new health sciences building. Working alongside other allied health profession students is important to me because it prepares us for the work that we're going to be doing in our future careers. No matter what discipline we study at university we will all be working as part of an interprofessional team in the health sector in the future."
Ulster University's School of Health Sciences is the regional provider of most of the allied health professions workforce for HSC in Northern Ireland. This includes diagnostic radiography, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, speech and language therapy, radiotherapy and oncology, as well as healthcare scientists. Workforce planning within health and social care (HSC) highlights the need for continued growth in this group of employees, the second largest in HSC.