Expanding horizons with an MSc in Workplace Health and Wellbeing
By Janet O’Neill & Samantha Langford
I was a stage in my Occupational Health career where I felt I was no longer growing or improving. I started to look at alternate roles and jobs which came to the attention of my boss at time. She introduced me to the idea of undertaking further education with a view to being promoted. I shall forever be grateful for this conversation and strongly advise those who are feeling a little lost or at a crossroads in their career to have a discussion with their senior or leader. It can make all the difference. I had already completed 2 qualifications in OH, a certificate and a diploma (a very good diploma with Cynthia Atwell OBE) and therefore did not want to cover similar ground by going for the obvious choice, a SCPHN-OH degree course. I chose the Nottingham University MSc course in Workplace Health and wellbeing because I did not have a degree (quite a few diplomas though) and a MSc sounded really challenging, if this didn’t stretch me, what would? But also because of the distance learning aspect. I was a single parent and working full time meant attendance would be more difficult. This MSc seemed to be a happy medium.
At our first get together (the first 3 days were face-to-face), I could tell this was going to be exciting. A mixed class from a number of different professions but all focusing on Health and Wellbeing (about a handful of OH professionals) and a number from overseas added an extra layer of awareness to conversations. I loved the topics but also the way we were able to align them with what we wanted to learn and develop.
I can safely say that undertaking this MSc course was not a walk in the path, but it absolutely allowed me to grow as a person and a clinician. I gained the confidence to grow my career and I firmly believe I would not be where I am today without this course. The subjects are transferable, but it also taught us how to question, the value of research and the value of the multidisciplinary team within workplace health.
While working in Learning and Development in a Civil Service department, I developed a passion for understanding, and improving, workplace health and wellbeing. Having worked as a Crime Scene Investigator, where I was exposed to potentially traumatic events daily, and in roles where the negative effects of psychosocial stressors were evident in colleagues, I wanted to dedicate my career to ensuring workplaces and working practices are not making people unwell, emotionally, physically, or mentally.
I found out about the Masters in Workplace Health and Wellbeing through a Police Learning event. The MSc Course Director, Jonathan’s Houdmont’s, research was discussed which led to me wanting to know more. Following a conversation with Jonathan I became convinced that this was exactly the course I needed to build on the passion I had. Ultimately, it was the prospect of learning the theory that underpins great workplace wellbeing that drew me in. Supplementing my passion with theory and research to apply in my own workplace. Jonathan’s enthusiasm definitely helped!
It is not an easy course, and you certainly need to have more than a passing interest in health and wellbeing, to be able to immerse yourself in your studies. But with it being a part-time distance learning course, it’s quite easy to study alongside work and other commitments. Covering key topics such as work-related stress, absence, rehabilitation and retention, contemporary issues in workplace health and the management and promotion of workplace health and wellbeing, it’s designed for learners to develop a deeper understanding of the theory and evidence that informs the management of workplace health and wellbeing, as well as skills for evidence-based practice. I found it to be fantastic, and career changing experience; there wasn’t anything I disliked. You come away with a much broader comprehension of why workplace health and wellbeing is so important. You develop the ability to rationalise approaches within a work environment, with sound theoretical arguments. Of course, you also have an opportunity to pull all of your learning together to undertake your own research, which not only provides you with evidence of your understanding, but also of the application of that knowledge; and, quite possibly, the opportunity to have your research published.
Samantha Langford MSc. BSc.
Director, Gaia Workplace Wellbeing Ltd.
Samantha has twenty years’ experience in public service, a NEBOSH national certificate in the Management of Workplace Health and Wellbeing and founded Gaia Workplace Wellbeing Ltd in November 2022, to bring my expertise to small businesses and charities. She is also a member of the Leadership Team of the Let’s Improve Workplace Wellbeing CIC. LinkedIn profile