Real-life story - Sam Varley

Sam’s story is a great illustration of the opportunities to progress and work in different areas of the NHS.

Sam Varley Associate director of children's services
Employer or university NHS East London and the City
Salary range Unknown

What I do

I’m now associate director of children’s services at Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust. It’s a purely managerial position, and I no longer see patients. I was offered this role as the NHS recognised the skills I’d gained along the way, whilst working as a clinician and a manager.

How I got in

I joined the NHS at 16 with five GCSEs. My first job was trainee medical technical officer in audiology at St John’s hospital in Chelmsford, where I learnt the basics of how to test people’s hearing and balance and provide adult rehabilitation services, which includes fitting and assessing people with hearing aids.

How I developed my career

After two years' on-the-job training, I earned a BTEC in medical physics and physiological measurement and qualified as an audiology technician. I continued my education and completed an HNC in medical physics and physiological measurement, for which I studied one day a week. This helped me reach the position of senior audiologist, where I stayed for several more years.

My next job was in a small, dynamic department at the Royal Ear Hospital in London, where I worked with some inspirational and supportive people. The consultants involved me in a wide range of tasks and encouraged me to think about getting more qualifications to open up opportunities.

Next up, I worked as head of a small audiology team at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London for two years. This role helped me develop my management skills; I was then supported to undertake a full time MSc course to qualify as an audiological scientist.

How my training has helped me

The MSc helped me progress, and a few years later I was made head of audiology at Tower Hamlets PCT. Here I oversaw a complex audiology service across three London boroughs. While there, I continued to development my management and leadership skills.

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