Academic Spotlight: Laura Garbett

With a huge variety of wonderful staff members and academics teaching our courses and shaping the futures of our students, we wanted to unpack their stories and discover how they got to where they are now. Laura Garbett, senior lecturer and course lead for Operating Department Practice, shares an insight into her career and work.

What do you do at BCU and how long have you been part of the University?

I joined BCU in 2018 as a lecturer for ODP, and prior to this I had roles within both the NHS and private health as an ODP specialising in anaesthetics and post-anaesthetic care as well as securing a resuscitation officer post in the two years prior to joining BCU.

However, it should be noted that my amazing journey with BCU started 10 years ago when I was a student ODP, and I am exceptionally proud to now be part of the amazing teaching team inspiring the next generation of ODPs

Could you tell us about your experience and how this feeds into your teaching?

My own educational journey began with law school, however upon completing my LLB (Hons), I decided that my true passion was within healthcare, and I had a real interest in the operating theatre. I stumbled across ‘the most amazing career I had never heard of’, namely ODP, looking for a healthcare assistant (HCA) role within the operating theatre and instantly knew it was what I wanted to do. From this I secured my first post as theatre HCA, applied to study the DipHE ODP and 12 months later I began my journey with BCU and from that day my passion for my profession each day grows. I now use my knowledge from both law school and my career as an ODP which was inclusive of working beyond the operating theatre to not only inform my teaching but inspire our students to achieve their aspirations.

What are some of the greatest achievements you have accomplished at BCU?

Without doubt as an academic it is about holistically supporting and enabling students to achieve their potential and have an amazing student experience. In 2020, we redesigned our BSc ODP for approval taking account of changes to the profession and the curriculum – to see the course now being delivered and the innovation that underpinned its design is really rewarding.

From a continuing professional development perspective, it is the achievement of my fellowship of the Higher Education Academy and my postgraduate certificate in higher education teaching and learning.

I have also recently submitted my dissertation for the MSc Professional Practice and hope to embark upon my professional doctorate. All of this has been undertaken alongside my academic role since joining BCU.

What makes the course you teach on distinct and what is the learning environment like?

Our course is innovative, exciting, and prepares students both personally, academically and professionally to meet the ever-evolving demands of our ODP profession. We are based at City South Campus where we benefit from traditional lecture theatres, modern classrooms and of course the skills and simulation suite to offer a range and teaching and learning environments. Our students also spend a large proportion of their time in a clinical placement area working alongside a clinical mentor within the multi-disciplinary team caring for a diverse range of patients across anaesthetics, surgery and post-anaesthetic care to attain their clinical competencies.

Operating Department Practice

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Why do you think Birmingham is a good place to study?

Our City South Campus offers amazing state-of-the-art facilities which allows for the incorporation of high-fidelity simulation-based teaching and learning across anaesthetics, surgery and post-anaesthetic care in our bespoke mock theatre environment. This allows our students to practice their skills and demonstrate knowledge in a safe learning environment incorporating interprofessional learning within a multi-disciplinary faculty. Location-wise Birmingham is a vibrant city with excellent transport links and a diverse social scene

What can students do to help prepare them for the courses you teach?

I would say research Birmingham and what BCU has to offer to ensure you get the best out your time with us both academically and socially. Your three years on the ODP course will be at times challenging but exceptionally rewarding and it is important to recognise that this is a career in which you will never stop learning so remember you do not need to know everything about ODP on day one. However, you may want to refresh your knowledge of anatomy and physiology and begin some reading around the history of anaesthesia and surgery in addition to thinking what you would like to achieve from your degree both personally and academically. The three years will go extremely fast, but it gives you an opportunity for something really special and will create memories and build friendships which you will cherish! So use the facilities, explore our different sites and embrace every opportunity that presents.

What’s your favourite thing about working at the University?

Definitely the people and being able to share my knowledge of Operating Department Practice with our students. This coupled with the immense feeling of pride when they walk across the stage on graduation day knowing we have helped them to achieve their dream is the ultimate reward.

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