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Meet Sam Rigby, whose passion for respiratory care has led to a UK-wide role with Atos Medical


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Tell us about your role

I am the tracheostomy clinical educator for Atos Medical, a medical devices company specialising in laryngectomy and tracheostomy care. My colleagues on the clinical education are three speech and language therapists: Allana Kelley (our team lead), Fay Ramessur and Alison Dempster. Along with our nursing service, you could say we have our own little multidisciplinary team. 

I currently cover the entire of the UK, so, as you can imagine, I’m very busy, but having come from the NHS, busy is what we like. My main duties involve developing and delivering tracheostomy-related educational sessions to any clinician who would like it.

To me, tracheostomy is one of the most exciting and complex areas of healthcare, but educational opportunities can be sparse. This is why I, and my colleagues at Atos Medical, want to help to upskill and educate staff in the NHS and private sector to empower them to deliver the best care for their patients – it really is a dream job. I also work closely with our sales managers and our customer care team to troubleshoot patient/clinician queries.

Using my clinical experience and knowledge, I can also support clinicians with troubleshooting problems that patients may face in the community, as well as weaning advice and education on heat and moisture exchangers, which is the main product we sell.

Tell us a about your previous career path

Though my initial degree was in biomedical science, I always wanted to work with patients, and I undertook a pre-reg MSc in physio. I then followed the usual post-graduate route into rotational physiotherapy before taking a static role as a senior in a long-term ventilation unit, caring for patients on NIV and with long term tracheostomies.

It was an amazing experience as we would set up and manage home ventilation and ran a cough augmentation clinic, for example. I then took up a senior rotational post to enhance my skills, undertaking roles in acute neurology and major trauma. 

Eventually, I took a senior post in the intensive care/respiratory field where I led my own team during the height of the pandemic. Though it was a challenging time, I was pleased to be able to use my previous experience to benefit patient care.

I have also undertaken a few guest lecture sessions at the local university, delivering sessions to undergrad physiotherapists. I would encourage anyone interested in education to reach out to their local universities and offer their services. 

What career advice would give less experienced colleagues?

  • impostor syndrome is a very real thing in health care. Just remember that as a physiotherapist, you are an extremely skilled individual who has the potential to effect real change within health care. Don’t be afraid to champion yourself and your colleagues wherever you can!
  • be willing to move around, both in terms of specialities and workplaces. I’m a big believer in ‘change is good’ and that by experiencing different areas, we can really hone our skills. Though I, for example, always knew I wanted to work in the respiratory field, we should never ignore the other amazing specialities
  • look beyond the ‘classic healthcare route’. Physiotherapy is advancing and expanding all the time, and there are many opportunities outside of our usual clinical roles. This may be in education, advanced practice, leadership or quality improvement, for example

We see you are running a training webinar next month – tell us more?

My next webinar is an introduction to our new paediatric tracheostomy innervation, the XtraCare Mini. I'll be reviewing A&P of the paediatric upper airway, as well as introducing the specification of the product with our research and development lead. (See below for a link to find out more).

We run webinars throughout the year as well as tracheostomy study days (both basic and advanced) so keep an eye out for these. I also offer a series of educational ‘lunch and ‘learn’ sessions that cover various respiratory and tracheostomy topics, ranging from the mechanics of breathing to troubleshooting the complex tracheostomy wean. These can be delivered face to face or virtually at a time convenient to you and your team.

Who is your target audience?

All sessions are free of charge and any clinician with an interest in tracheostomy can register for them. Whether you are an experienced clinician looking for an update, or a recent graduate who is hungry for more knowledge, these sessions can be tailored for you.

To register, you can keep an eye on our website (https://www.atosmedical.co.uk) or Twitter account (@AtosMedicalUK) or contact the team directly for more information on topics. Email: clinicalsupport@atosmedical.com

How do you retain your passion for physiotherapy and how do you relax?

My passion is boosted every day through the amazing colleagues that I meet with across the NHS! Seeing the fabulous work and huge impact we have on our patients really motivates me to continue championing the profession in any way I can [Sam Rigby]

My passion is boosted every day through the amazing colleagues that I meet with across the NHS! Seeing the fabulous work and huge impact we have on our patients really motivates me to continue championing the profession in any way I can. I’m also a bit of a geek and so I take some time out to read some of the latest evidence and practices that are going on across the field.

That being said, I have worked in healthcare for more than 11 years and know all too well that ‘burn out’ is a real problem. My advice is not to be afraid to step away from the books, emails, and Twitter account, and do something you enjoy. That might simply be going the gym, socialising with friends, or, if you’re a big foodie like me, experimenting in the kitchen with some new recipes.

Follow Sam on Twitter: @SRigby92

To find out about Sam's free 1 February webinar, titled Freevent XtraCare Mini - The Paediatric HMEF, and other events that Atos Medical runs for clinicians, visit: https://www.atosmedical.co.uk/professional/clinical-support-and-education/upcoming-clinician-webinars

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