Inspiring the next generation of potential clinical entrepreneurs

Two medical students reflect on what they have learned during placements at Health Innovation East

Published: 15th July 2022

Understanding how NHS innovation works

Ashley and Kachi, medical students at the University of East Anglia, joined us for a work experience as part of their degrees. They told us about their time with us to find out what they had learned and how it might shape their careers…

Ashley Wong UEA medical student
Ashley's story

Ashley Wong, Medicine Undergraduate

I was delighted to start my course at Norwich Medical School to develop my clinical experience and theoretical knowledge, but there were elements of healthcare that are challenging to learn about through my degree alone. Such as: How does commissioning work? Where does innovation fit into the NHS? How does the NHS actually work as a system?

To explore the answers to these questions the university put me in contact with Health Innovation East. The team were really supportive in helping scope out a prospective placement to make sure I gained as much experience as possible within the time I had.

I joined the health informatics team for six weeks. Health informatics is an area of healthcare science responsible for developing and improving methods for acquiring, storing, organising and analysing biological data that supports the delivery of patient care. Health Innovation East has become a leader in aspects of this emerging science and provided opportunities for me to meet experts in the field and collaborate with the wider organisation.

Straightaway I was amazed by the various projects, expertise and impact being delivered across both the health informatics team and Health Innovation East. My placement has given me the opportunity to work towards a project on data requirements within the organisation, which allowed me to develop analytical and interpersonal team skills. Throughout the project, I felt supported by the team and there was always help to hand when needed.

As my placement comes to an end, I have learned so much about how the NHS works at a system level, the remits and strengths of different organisations and, most importantly, how they work together. I’ve also seen how this helps get innovations off the ground and enables health initiatives to come to fruition.

My time with Health Innovation East has inspired me to consider a wider range of career options available for health professionals, particularly with regards to digital innovation and how it can fit alongside a medical career to support better patient outcomes.

I’ve met some incredible people and found out about so much brilliant work happening at the forefront of healthcare which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

Kachi Onyekuru UEA Medicine Undergraduate
Kachi's Story

Kachi Onyekuru, Medicine Undergraduate

I’ve always had a keen interest in start-ups and entrepreneurship and wanted to explore if there was a career path in healthcare that would allow me to utilise my medical degree in this way.

I have to admit I didn’t know about AHSNs through my degree, but speaking to a friend who had secured a placement I realised it would be a great place to learn more about how innovation and entrepreneurship worked in a medical setting.

During my placement I joined the commercial team who deal directly with innovators in trying to help them to get their innovations off the ground and implemented into clinical practice.

It was a great learning experience to see how they worked together to support innovators and gave me exposure to many incredible founders and their innovations.

Everyone at Health Innovation East was lovely, welcoming and enthusiastic to have me onboard and encouraged me to get stuck in and sit in on innovation review panels with them. This level of engagement really made the placement an enjoyable experience.

I have gained a lot from the placement and it’s really broadened my horizon to all the possibilities within healthcare and all the ways innovation is still needed to ensure patients receive the best possible health outcomes in the future.

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At Health Innovation East we are here to help innovators at any stage in their entrepreneurial career. If you have a great idea which you want to see turned into positive patient impact, get in touch.

If you are interested in a placement at Health Innovation East, contact

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