05 March 2021

Working in healthcare is not all about hospital-based work. In fact the majority of healthcare happens outside of hospitals. In National Careers Week, we interview Louise Cole, a Practice Manager in Leighton Buzzard. She shares her career journey and talks about why she loves what she does.

What is your role?
I am a Practice Manager at Leighton Road Surgery in Bedfordshire which has 20,000 patients. We have 78 staff who I manage alongside the Lead GP and Nursing Manager. 

 I am responsible for ... everything. The budget, paying the bills, supplies and stock, performance, health targets, health and safety, people and culture (HR), governance, people participation, innovation, creativity ... even car parking!


What do you love about your job?
Firstly, I love serving our patients. In their time of difficulty, their GP practice is the first place they turn to. They know the reception staff and the clinical staff. They trust us with their worries and bring their concerns here for us to work out what the next steps should be. It is so rewarding. 

Secondly, I love the staff. We have a terrific team here. Whatever the patient's issue is, someone in the team will be able to help. It might be managing pain or symptoms, instigating tests to help with a diagnosis, taking blood,  referring to a specialist, managing an allergy, a wound, organising a letter to a housing organisation. They are real-life heroes.

And thirdly, I love the feeling that I and we are making a difference to someone's life. That's a privilege.


What is challenging about your role?
This last year has been really challenging with many changes sprung on us with minimal warning. We have had to adapt what we do sometimes overnight. Criteria changes. Sometimes you don't understand the rationale for the change so you can find yourself instigating something that you don't comprehend which makes it hard to explain/sell to others. But it has been an exceptional time and our staff have kept going.


What was your career pathway to your job?
I started off as a medical receptionist. I did an AMPSAR Diploma (qualifications for administration personnel) and worked as a medical secretary for four years. Then I became an Admin Manager rising t Deputy Practice Manager for two years. I have been a Practice Manager for one year now


What would you say to anyone thinking of moving to the field of primary care?
I would say that if you have a passion for customer care and communicate well, there is a job for you somewhere in primary care. We need clinical skills, technical skills, admin skills, coding skills, project management skills - anything you are doing now, you can do in primary care. We are smaller and more local but the fulfilment you get from helping your community is second to none. With more care happening at primary care level, this is a growth area so we need the right people with the right skills.

Check out our current vacancies now: https://www.elft.nhs.uk/Working-For-Us/Job-Vacancies


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