Sharon Stafford, BSc Healthcare Science (Cardiac Physiology)

Sharon Stafford

What did you do prior to studying at Swansea University?

I came to Swansea University immediately after completing my A-Levels in Biology, Maths and French back home in Northern Ireland.

Why did you choose to study at Swansea University?

There weren't many universities offering the course and when I came to my interview at Swansea, it seemed like due to the smaller cohort numbers, there would be a lot more personal teaching and it would be easier to learn in this environment - a small class with lots of integrated practical opportunities in hospitals.

Can you tell us about your course?

Cardiac physiology is a degree focused around the anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology of the heart. Approximately half of the degree duration is based around various hospitals gaining practical experience at carrying out investigations on patients with suspected or known cardiac conditions. It does take a lot of motivation and self-discipline to manage your time, particularly when on placement, but the course is very specific for future careers and so employment rates are usually incredibly high.

What part of the course did you enjoy the most?

Gaining experience across lots of different hospitals was very useful to discover how many departments and members of staff work to gain greater flexibility in transferring between placements. Each department is used to having lots of students with them during the year and so often make you feel really welcome, and often it does feel like you're part of the team rather than just a student that they have to have there.

What’s been your highlight whilst studying at Swansea University?

There are so many facilities and societies at the university that everyone can get involved in. It can be difficult if you're on a longer placement far away, but personally I got involved in the Christian Union and societies are a great way to meet others, and sometimes it's nice to mix with people who are studying something totally different to you.

Have you already found employment? If so…where?

I've got a job as a cardiac physiologist in University Hospital Wales, Cardiff.

What are you enjoying about your job?

I like the unpredictability of working with patients. Everyone is different and sometimes it is impossible to plan how a patient appointment or case will go. It's great to see such a range of patient demographics in cardiology and to have such frequent communication in a range of situations in the clinical environment.

How will your studies help you pursue your profession?

The course is totally specific for the cardiac physiologist job positions that the NHS offers and so there is less uncertainty about future career routes which could be a possibility like there are with some other courses. The placements give a taster of what working life is like and you get to work with physiologists from a range of backgrounds and specialities and learn how to transfer your knowledge from lectures to the clinical environment.

Would you recommend Swansea University to other students?

Swansea is a great university with plenty of activities for students to get involved in. The city and surrounding areas are beautiful and there are lots of things to do when you're not in lectures!