Michelle McCourt

I qualified as a physiotherapist in 2016. I wanted to do a postgraduate course, but wasn't sure what to go for. The pandemic brought clarity. I saw how leadership in healthcare had been so essential for healthcare workers and remembered how, in my secondary school days, I always enjoyed being the lead in sports or in musicals. I wanted my career to progress more in leadership and I had ideas of what I would change, but not how I could successfully bring about this change. So I spoke to my manager and I knew it was the course for me.

Everything was online, which saved me having to commute from Drogheda to Dublin. I loved working with classmates from around Ireland and beyond, including in Bahrain and Dubai. What stood out for me was how well it was all put together. The professionalism of the staff was second-to-none and there were great resources available to help us through the more challenging parts. Everything was explained well and from a number of angles.

My main aim was to bring about change and make life better for patients, and this course has really equipped me for a role in management or patient flow.

As a student on RCSI's masters in healthcare management, I had to work on a quality improvement project in my own healthcare setting, so I decided to focus on better patient flow. At the nurse's station on my ward is a whiteboard where we write down the names and room numbers of our patients, which helps the multidisciplinary team - consisting of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and dieticians - keep track. Every morning at handover, the team runs through every patient care.

To help improve patient flow, I implemented a traffic-light system, using green, orange or red magnets on the whiteboard so that every member of the team could see where each patient was at. Red meant that the patient had not been seen by our services, orange meant that they were undergoing rehabilitation and green meant that they were ready for discharge. It was a clear and easy visual that could increase patient flow.

On the masters, however, we don't just carry out a project and hope for the best; we have to measure results. And comparing the data before and after my project, we saw a 9% improvement in discharges before noon. My project could work in any ward in the hospital, and has potential to be digitised so that hospital managers can click into it and have a clear visual of their wards. They're still using it on the ward, and my next step will be to re-audit it and see how we can make further improvements.

Ultimately, this course has helped me not just to understand change in healthcare, but given me the tools and power to implement and lead it.