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Alumna profile: Mollie Riley

How has the COVID-19 outbreak changed the way you work? 

I work as a respiratory physiologist in the Lung Function laboratory at Great Ormond Street Hospital. As a result of Covid-19, there have been huge changes to the way I work. In order to reduce the transmission and protect our patients (and staff), my team and I are longer testing up to 30-40 children a day and instead, a patient a day is the new norm. Due to the change in service and our physiology background, we have received clinical upskilling to help out on the respiratory and long-term ventilation wards. My team has lent a hand in any way they can including a ward highlight; handing out patient lunches and gaining the new name ‘Lunch Function’ from the nurses! 

What is the biggest challenge about this new way of working, and what has helped overcome this? 

Initially, there was some uncertainty over what role us as GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital) physiologists could provide during the pandemic. Still at this point, we are aware that our role could change but we will be ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with the brilliant doctors and nurses in the fight against covid-19. 

How are you working to tackle the outbreak in your role? 

The way we care for our patients has changed so dramatically as a result of Covid-19. Lung function testing is necessary for our respiratory patients and in particular, the Cystic Fibrosis community. However, lung function testing is known as an ‘aerosol generating procedure’ and is considered high risk exposure. In order to minimise face to face contact and reduce infection, the NICE guidelines state that home spirometry (a method of measuring lung function) should be provided for patients. The lung function lab at GOSH is currently implementing home spirometry for Cystic Fibrosis patients which most likely, will continue post Covid-19. This means that lung function monitoring in children and young people can continue without stepping into the hospital. Our role as respiratory physiologists now involves ‘zooming’ patients at home to provide guidance on how to perform accurate tests and support and coach patients to receive the best results they can. We are kicking off the future of respiratory telemedicine! 

How did the experience and skills gained at St George’s help prepare you for the current situation? 

Since Covid-19, I have reverted back to my student-self; I have been regularly setting goals and making action plans at work and in my personal life. Undoubtedly, my organisation skills and my ability to keep on top of things were learnt at St Georges. 

And although I haven’t needed to use them the extra clinical skills learnt at St Georges may be required in the next few months. Specialising in paediatrics has meant that skills I learnt at university (studying paeds and adults), haven’t yet been applied at GOSH. 

What helps you stay positive during this challenging time? 

Exercising (particularly on my peloton bike), reading good books and lots of ‘zooming’ with friends, family and my colleagues. Although I would say limit screen time, my weekly video chats have been amazing in maintaining positivity! 

Do you have any advice or a message to others working on the front line to keep the public safe? 

Firstly, thank you for all that you do. 

In the current climate, It's so very easy to overlook wellbeing when we're busy or distracted, so please do check in with yourself and ask ‘how am I feeling?’ There are also so many resources out there at the moment to support us during this time -  use them. Our mental health is an important part of making sure we can look after our patients. 

What advice would you give to current students who may be about to enter the workplace, or are volunteering, during the outbreak? 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and do tell someone if you are finding things tough. Your colleagues will be a great support to you. We are the NHS, it’s what we do, its instilled in us to care for others. 


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