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.

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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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