Sophie Street

Job Title

Quality Improvement Coach

Is your role clinical or non-clinical?


When you were in school, did you want to join the NHS?

No, I wanted to work in a Zoo with Steve Irwin! I ended up falling into different roles and have been working in the NHS in a few different roles for 5 years.

Tell us about your job

A typical day for me starts with a beautiful to-do list and coffee. I always review my diary to ensure I am prepared for any training or coaching that I have booked in. I sometimes travel to a location with a box of resources, or I dial in often from my desk at home wearing a nice top, with comfy leggings and slippers. My colleagues and I sometimes deliver training together, which means we might chat and plan the session and de-brief to give each other tips and productive feedback. I always try to make notes so that I can follow up with individual or team personalised coaching as needed to try and see the impact that the training has had on that person! I will sometimes write a report, or put together a poster with quotes and pictures of completed work. And I am often thinking about – what can we do better next time?

How did you come to work in the NHS?

I left school with good GCSEs and got some A levels. However, whilst at Uni, I always preferred to work and earn money, so I worked in Hotels in different front office roles and skipped Uni lectures whenever I could. I ended up leaving Uni and working full time as a reception manager. I applied for a temporary admin role and joined the NHS as an agency worker in 2017 on a minimum hourly wage. Having worked through a few management roles, I applied for a secondment to be a Quality Improvement facilitator after doing 5 days training. Over the last few years I was redeployed to support the Hampshire Isle of White COVID Vaccination centres and was a roster manager, then school vaccination roster manager. Before finally getting back to a permanent role in the Quality Improvement Team at Southern Health. I am now a Quality Improvement coach and have completed a degree in leadership and management as an apprentice whilst working! Because I could pick what I was interested in, and was supported to work and study as it suited me, I graduated and learnt lots that I still use to further my career.

What are some challenges?

As a Quality Improvement Coach, we sometimes get involved when something has gone wrong, and the Team recognises they need something to change. Because there are lots of rules and governance structures that support change, sometimes we do really run into a brick wall. Unfortunately, this can end up being frustrating as always, people are trying to get the best outcomes for their patients and their team members.

What do you love about your job?

In this role, I am able to work with people all over Hampshire. It doesn’t matter their levels of experience, roles, qualifications, skills. It’s really fun to act as a super connecter and signpost people to others who are also interested in the same things! We often hear about the improvement ideas people have, and we sometimes get to see the data that proves the improvement ideas have worked! This is so satisfying, and the satisfaction of completing a project is the best.

Which Clinical colleagues support you?

In our roles, we work directly with clinical colleagues supporting them. Senior Clinical Directors, Ward Managers, Nurses, AHP’s, Health care assistants and everyone on working in the team should always get involved in improvement planning. We also link in with Pharmacy colleagues and other experts in their field to provide us with sponsorship and clinical guidance when we are coaching a project.

Which Non-clinical colleagues support you?

Our Team administrator keeps our team in check, organising our diaries and booking training in for the team. Our Team QI communications officer helps us to capture the stories, share opportunities and updates on social media as well as maintaining our webpage with resources etc. We also link in with other support services including technology, IT support and corporate services when we are coaching improvement projects.

Is there career progression in your role and how would you get there?

Yes – In this role, there is specific training that the Trust offer internally which gives you a real insight into the expectations and skills needed from a Quality Improvement leader. As Quality Improvement is such a big and powerful subject, there are also loads of external training opportunities. Generally, the NHS is incredibly supportive of undertaking training relative to your role. In my case, I was able to pursue a degree as an apprentice even in this more senior corporate role! The other thing to consider is the opportunity to attend the training and events that really interest you, outside of your exact role. I am a Co-Chair for a Women & Allies Vox-Pop network, and have undertaken training and have time and support to manage this as well as my regular commitments.

What would you say to a young person thinking of joining the NHS?

Check out roles available via temporary agencies, or see if apprenticeships are available in the Trust in your area! There is so much support via the managers, and HR, unlike in many private or corporate companies. When you’re thinking of joining, look at the Trust’s webpage and see what they are really passionate about – do their values fit in with yours? There is also a massive need to improve our technology capabilities! I’ve briefly been involved with a few projects using VR headsets, apps and other innovations that are already out there, but we’re just not super confident using them! If you can find a role that matches with your personality and interests then that’s amazing, but there is always the opportunity once you are working in the NHS, to get involved in things you’re interested in… New opportunities pop up all the time to get involved in something exciting.

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