Fellows and Scholars - meet the ambassadors of our work

Our Fellows and Scholars scheme offers professionals the chance to learn about and get involved with the inner workings of NICE.

The scheme allows individuals from across health, public health and social care to get closely involved NICE, and to network with like-minded advocates of evidence-based practice.

This year, we awarded 10 Fellowships and 10 Scholarships to professionals including consultant doctors, research fellows, physiotherapists and GPs.

NICE Fellows – senior health and social care professionals spreading the word of NICE

NICE Fellows are senior health care leaders who act as ambassadors for NICE’s work. Each Fellowship lasts for 3 years, allowing Fellows to build networks of influential professionals who support NICE in the implementation of its guidance.

In previous years NICE Fellows have a collected awards, published papers, had their work featured in publications, and given presentations on national platforms. Fellows from recent cohorts have taken guidance processes through NICE accreditation and led tutorials to support GPs who are practising in Wales.

Catherine Williams is among this year’s intake of NICE Fellows, and is one of the first lay members to join the scheme. Catherine is an experienced lay representative in maternity.

Catherine will use her time as a fellow to promote wider understanding of the value of NICE process, and the need for lay people and clinicians alike to be involved, whether as GDG members or as stakeholders. She also has a strong interest in supporting evidence informed decision making by service users.

NICE Scholars – one-year opportunities to learn more about our work

NICE Scholarships are one-year opportunities for qualified health and social care professionals to find out about the inner workings of NICE and undertake a supported improvement project, related to NICE guidance, within their local organisation.

NICE Scholars are supported in their project through a series of workshops, access to a mentor, and contact with the expert teams at NICE. NICE Scholarships are typically awarded to specialist registrars, senior nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals, service improvement leads, public health and social care specialists and health service managers.

The latest intake of NICE Scholars includes registrars in paediatrics, neurosurgery and obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as a physiotherapist and an academic clinical fellow in GP practice.

Samuel Finnikin is an outgoing Scholar at NICE. He is currently undertaking a master’s degree in clinical primary and community care.

As a NICE scholar, Sam is looking to utilise ‘big data’ to examine how NICE guidelines are applied in primary care with a specific emphasis on lipid lowering guidance and cardiovascular risk scoring. Here he talks about his experience of the scheme.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “Becoming a NICE Fellow or Scholar is a wonderful opportunity for health and social care professionals to understand more about how NICE works and the services we provide. Now in its seventh year, the programme has gone from strength to strength, and previous participants of the programme are actively using their experience and knowledge gained to improve health and social care, both locally and at a national level.”

Interview with Liz Warburton

Liz Warburton is an outgoing Fellow at NICE. She is a consultant in stroke medicine at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and has led the development of organised stroke care locally and also in the East of England as the Anglia Stroke Network clinical lead within the National Stroke Improvement programme.

Here Liz talks about her experience as a NICE Fellow.

1. Why did you apply to be a NICE Fellow?

I am a stroke physician in secondary care aiming to improve services and care for stroke patients across a semi-rural area. I was very interested in the work of NICE generally and more specifically to use the fellowship scheme to learn more broadly about implementation science in order to inform the work I was doing in improving stroke care.

2. How can NICE guidance play a role in improving the outcomes of people who have had a stroke?

The NICE guidance for stroke is crucial in many ways – preventing stroke in the first place particularly with the recent NICE guidance on management of atrial fibrillation, informing the national stroke strategy with the general clinical guidance CG68 and rehabilitation guidance which saw a transformation in stroke care from 2006- and more recently guidance on mechanical thrombectomy – a potentially transformative acute procedure for patients with ischemic stroke just approved by NICE.

3. What was your experience of being a NICE Fellow?

I have had a great experience as a NICE fellow. I have found the whole team at NICE most able, helpful, positive and supportive of me as an individual and also my work. I have gained hugely from the networking opportunities with other NICE fellows and also staff at NICE. It was useful to attend the NICE conferences and participate in the specific workshops organised for the Fellows. The Fellows mentors are wonderful!

4. What advice would you give to anyone considering applying for a NICE Scholarship?

Don’t hesitate, apply! Try and free up enough time to attend as many of the workshops and other opportunities on offer. It’s good to have a specific idea of what you want to achieve but not essential and many fellows (including me) find their original plan evolves into something else informed by the fellowship.