How Coventry University is at the forefront of the future of healthcare

Headshot of Coventry University's Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health, Professor Ann-Marie Cannaby

Coventry University's Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health, Professor Ann-Marie Cannaby

University news

Thursday 11 January 2024

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Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health, Professor Ann-Marie Cannaby, has shared her views on the crucial role universities play in producing healthcare professionals of the future while highlighting the importance of strategic partnerships and modern technology.

As someone who has dedicated much of their 30-year career to working in the NHS and who has held executive healthcare roles in countries around the world, I have been asked several times since being in post what it was that drew me to Coventry University Group (CUG).

The answer is a simple one. The Group’s vision. From improving and widening access to education on a global scale to innovative research projects and ambitious growth plans overseas, CUG and the School of Health and Care are committed to improving healthcare at all levels – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

As with anything we do, students remain at the heart of this approach.

Shaping the next generation of health and caring professionals demands a holistic blend of knowledge, practical skills and the compassion to care for people. This critical task requires seamless collaboration between academic institutions and care providers as well as a commitment to abandoning an all-too-common siloed approach. Only through a shared vision and strong working partnerships can we ensure equitable access to high-quality education across all health and care professions.

On this point, education, and a commitment to ongoing learning, is at the heart of continuous development for all those working in health and social care. It is as essential to improving service quality as it is to retaining skilled professionals. However, in the UK, there is often a chasm that separates the academic and practical world, thus hindering knowledge exchange and professional growth.

Changing perspectives

I have witnessed this first-hand in a career which has consistently straddled that divide. The current infrastructure does not readily promote or support dual roles, which has forced myself and others into choosing one sector over the other. And, despite being an NHS executive, the relentless pressure of service delivery makes dual appointments a rarity.

Perhaps if our perspective altered slightly and local universities, alongside care providers, focused on agreeing a primary function and a responsibility to education, then we could deliver greater opportunities to our students and local communities. Investing in dual sector careers as well as retaining and reinvesting into the NHS would help regain a solid foundation in its workforce supply.

Here in the School of Health and Care, it is our job to play a collaborative role in achieving this and shaping the provision with our partners.

The way people engage with education is changing, but traditional undergraduate programmes will always be a part of our School’s curriculum. Many students want more flexibility, while others need to work and study simultaneously. Apprenticeships continue to grow, while blended and virtual learning provide opportunities to accommodate different lifestyle patterns around the world.

Digital revolution

The digital revolution – from artificial intelligence to virtual and augmented realities – is poised to radically reshape how we deliver healthcare education and, in some cases, is already playing a pivotal role. These innovations hold immense promise for student development as well as continuous learning, opening the door to new generations of aspiring health and social care workers.

As a leader on BT’s Health Board, I have been fortunate enough to gain first-hand experience of the importance of modern technology. It is an area I am incredibly passionate about and I am proud to have joined an organisation that is already embracing the equipment of tomorrow in its approach to both teaching and research. This is quickly becoming our hallmark as a university Group and by adopting forward-thinking technology we can provide improved learning opportunities to our students. It also allows us to strengthen our collaborations, delivering education and innovative healthcare solutions to a wide range of partners both at home and overseas.

At Coventry University Group we have worked hard to establish exciting collaborations with national and international institutions and we must continue to explore further opportunities as a priority. Partnerships spanning academia, research and practice represent significant areas of growth for the Group and continuing to focus our efforts on collaboration will allow us to realise our ambitions on a global scale.

This is how I envisage the future of the School of Health and Care, and I know it is a vision that I share with colleagues from across all the Colleges, entities and locations that make up our global education group. It is a pleasure to call Coventry University Group my new home and I look forward to building on our outstanding reputation in health and care as we create better futures for the communities we serve.