MSc Public Health graduate Debbie Roberts is a health visitor and practice teacher with Cardiff Flying Start. She works with families of pre-school children in an ethnically diverse area of the inner city.
Why did you choose the MSc Public Health course?
I chose the MSc in Public Health as I thought it would enable me to develop my knowledge and practice as a health visitor as well as challenging me to explore topics I might not have otherwise considered studying. The international flavour of the course particularly appealed to me.
What did you enjoy about it?
I loved every minute of my MSc! The opportunity to study a whole range of issues, both from the UK and overseas was fascinating and the interactive nature of the sessions enabled me to link theory to my practice as a health visitor. The tutors gave excellent support, both during lectures and supervision.
What were the highlights?
Studying with colleagues from all over the world was undoubtedly the highlight. The lecturers enabled students to draw upon their own experience to enrich our learning, and it was fascinating listening to others who had worked in public health in very different settings from my own. What's more, the skills of evaluating evidence, planning and implementing change were invaluable.
How has it helped you in your career?
Studying for an MSc has enriched my practice, and – I hope – made me a better practitioner. It has also enabled me to gain a post as a practice teacher alongside my health visiting role.
What made you want to go into this role?
Having trained in adult and paediatric nursing and worked in a hospital setting for a number of years, I decided to move into the community and qualified as a health visitor and district nurse in 1994. I have been working as a health visitor for 20 years.
What do you enjoy about it?
I love the variety of the work and meeting families from many different ethnic and social backgrounds. Enabling parents to grow in confidence in caring for their children and encouraging them to help their children fulfil their potential is very satisfying. This is what the Flying Start programme is all about!
A large part of my role as practice teacher is the training and supervising of student health visitors. I have also set up a breastfeeding support group for mums; I deliver a training course on breastfeeding for health visitors and midwives in the Health Board, in collaboration with a midwife colleague, and have helped the Health Board achieve the ‘Baby Friendly Initiative’ breastfeeding award.
Professionally, what’s next?
Having recently had a paper published in Community Practitioner, I hope to use the experience gained in my MSc to submit a poster presentation and abstract for a paper to various conferences in the next year. I enjoy teaching and would like to develop this alongside my health visiting practice.