Gibraltar Covid heroes celebrate graduation after taking time out to battle pandemic

Categories: School of Health and Society

Eight staff from the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) are finally celebrating graduating from the University of Salford with their master’s certificates, following the pandemic bringing their studies to a halt. 

Funded by the GHA, which delivers health care in Gibraltar, the MSc Leadership & Management for Healthcare Practice was commissioned in 2017, and was aimed at enabling health care professionals to deal with complex leadership situations and provide effective patient and service outcomes. The programme considers how students can explore the challenges and opportunities to influence policy and transform services within their organisation.

The eight students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from nursing to finance.

The had completed the first two years of their programme when Covid-19 struck. Due to the nature of their roles, all of the students had to pause their studies to allow them to deal with the impact of the pandemic – from opening Nightingale hospitals and procuring PPE to distributing vaccinations, they found themselves suddenly on the frontline.

Natalie, one of the graduates who is a Lead Nurse in Gibraltar, said: “My experience of the MSc helped me gain the confidence and knowledge I needed to face our rapidly changing environment. I felt it gave me the resilience I needed to proudly lead the team in unchartered territory.”

Head Orthoptist, Michelle, agreed: “It really helped me organise myself and keep priorities in check. It prepared me both mentally and physically and I was able to manage my stress levels more effectively.” 

The graduates highlighted how the course’s focus on change management and caring for a team had helped them as they faced the pandemic. They also commented that they felt the interprofessional nature of the course, bringing together colleagues from different areas of the organisation, helped them improve their communication and collaboration: skills which would prove vital in the months to come.

As life slowly began to go back to normal with the pandemic coming under control, the graduates were gradually able to return to study. They have now all completed the course and were able to graduate together at a special ceremony attended by the Minister for Health, The Hon Albert Isola MP, His Worship the Mayor and Professor Patrick Geoghegan, GHA Director General. 

Dr Lesley Lappin, Programme Leader from the University of Salford, said: “I have immense pride in this group of students, who demonstrated such strong leadership in their specific roles during the pandemic. Their dedication during this time was only matched by their dedication to their studies, and as each one returned to complete their MSc, their stories of the part they played in developing services at both national and local levels was inspirational.

“I feel truly grateful that our MSc programme equipped them with the leadership skills and knowledge they needed during such a challenging time.” 

Professor Margaret Rowe, Dean of the School of Health and Society at the University of Salford represented the university at the ceremony. She said: “It was wonderful to attend this very special graduation ceremony. This group of students have absolutely gone above and beyond for the citizens of Gibraltar during the pandemic. It was fantastic to be able to celebrate with them and see the amazing resilience they have shown in completing their studies at such high standards.”

The students at their graduation

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