Diane Williams: Data Analyst Apprenticeship

Following on from Charlotte’s previous case study, below we hear from Diane Williams, Hepatitis C Network Manager (West Yorkshire ODN) at LTHT, about her experience of the Level 4 Data Analyst Apprenticeship, which is delivered in partnership with Multiverse. Recruitment for the current cohort is now closed. However, if you’d like to be added to the waiting list for the next Data Analyst programme, please contact us at LHCA@nhs.net to let us know.

I never thought that you could tell a story with data! The course has made me look at things differently, and improve how I present data.

“I joined the NHS from school over 30 years ago. I actually started out in the ambulance service as a Cadet in the eighties through an apprenticeship. After that I was a paramedic, and then went onto ambulance management.

Two and a half years ago I joined the Viral Hepatitis Service as an Operational Delivery Networks (ODN) Manager. I work with an assistant to manage four Trusts (Leeds, Bradford, Airedale, and Calderdale and Huddersfield) for the ODN. I look at a lot of data; manage the budgets for the network, and build the reports – so there are lots of numbers involved!

I remember when I first started this role, I could see that the team had a fantastic amount of information, it just wasn’t formatted correctly. At the time I was able to get the basics right to help with this, but as they had so much brilliant information, I wished that I was able to do something more with it, which is what the Data Analyst apprenticeship is helping me with.

What actually inspired me to take on the apprenticeship was the data that we were getting about COVID. We were receiving lots of information, I was looking at how it was presented, and what it was telling us – it made me think that we could be doing so much more with this data.

I applied for the course during lockdown, when we couldn’t go anywhere anyway, so I thought I may as well use that time to learn a new skill! I’d already done a lot of management courses, so I wanted something that would push me out of my comfort zone, and I knew that this apprenticeship would be a completely new challenge for me.

The apprenticeship allows you to learn on the job, which makes it a lot easier to balance alongside your day-to-day role, and it’s fully-funded – so why not! I also really like that the course is delivered online, so you can continue to work from home without workplace distractions.

The course content actually started with something I already deal with day-to-day – graphs and charts – but it taught me different ways of visualising them, and how you can use them to tell a story. I never thought that you could tell a story with data! The course has made me look at things differently, and improve how I present data.

I’m currently in the ‘Boot Camp’ phase, and we’re learning about SQL (Structured Query Language) which is the standard language that is used in data handling and building reports. It’s totally out of my comfort zone, I’ve never done anything with SQL before, but I’m enjoying learning something brand new that will really help with my role.

I feel well supported by my line manager, and the weekly coffee hour that Multiverse host is great for being able to ask any questions that you have in a relaxed setting. For example, I was unsure how to complete an assignment, so I went to the coffee hour to ask questions, and found that somebody else had the exact same problem. We were able to listen to each other, and work through it together.

We also have support from our accountability partners. Me and my partners set up our own monthly meeting and talk about how we’re feeling about the course, and how we’re progressing with the work. My partners are also brand new to SQL, and it’s so nice to talk to people who are at the same level, being able to share knowledge has been really good for us. We’re all from different organisations across the system too, so we can share other useful information with each other. I can already see how we’ll be able to work together in future, as we now have an understanding of how each other’s organisations work.

In terms of what I’ve learnt so far, when I first started in my ODN role, we received a big file of data around patients in West Yorkshire that have Hepatitis C, and we had to go through every single field to check for duplicates – which was really daunting. One simple thing we’ve learnt is how to check for duplicates in Excel, and now this task that used to take weeks, takes 10 seconds!

Another thing that I’ve been able to improve as a result of the apprenticeship so far is our map of service providers. Using PowerBI, I’ve been able to really improve this map, and it’s now so much easier to view and understand. This skill is going to be so useful within my role. It made me really excited that something so simple can make such a big difference!

As I’m learning new skills myself, I’m also then able to coach my direct report on them, so she’s able to develop her knowledge too.

If you’re considering applying for this apprenticeship, just go for it, and don’t doubt yourself!”

Diane’s map of services before learning about PowerBI:

Diane’s map of services after learning about PowerBI:

female-doctor working with laptop
freelance online working
video conference

Learning Opportunities

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