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David Monk

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David completed his BSc (Hons) (Open) and Master of Business Administration at The Open University Business School between 2004 and 2012 while working full-time for the NHS. David was later awarded our Alumni of the Year 2021 for his leadership role with his local health system and St John Ambulance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanctioned by King Charles III he was further awarded an MStJ by the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in November 2022. Currently holding several prestigious positions, including Executive Clinical Director for St. John Ambulance Cymru, David shares his story. 

Embarking on his study journey

“I decided to undertake a Master’s with The Open University because I wanted to increase my knowledge and abilities as a senior manager, to support my career progression.

“At the time of starting the MBA, I was a middle manager working for East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust as a Clinical and Operational Manager, responsible for Cambridge Ambulance Station and its clinical staff.

“I decided to study part-time, while I worked full-time. This was incredibly challenging and sometimes I look back now and wonder how I found the time and energy to do it.

Climbing the career ladder

“My qualification and study experience helped me to achieve senior management positions in the NHS at a much earlier age than most of my peers. 

“The qualifications have helped my career progression, opened up opportunities and supported me in holding a Voluntary National Associate Medical Director position with St John Ambulance, and more recently employment as Executive Clinical Director for St John Ambulance Cymru. I am the only non-doctor to hold this post as I’m a paramedic by profession.

“In 2019 I was also elected a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management.

“As well as my roles with St John Ambulance, I am the Operations Manager (Urgent and Unscheduled Care) at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 

“My role includes responsibility for the: Emergency Department at Addenbrookes Hospital and East of England Major Trauma Centre; Cambridge Urgent Treatment Centre; three Cambridgeshire Minor Injury Units; Network Coordination Service that supports the East of England Major Trauma Network; and provision of tactical medical advisors to the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

“It’s a busy role. Most days involve a combination of meetings to look at performance, staffing, finance and long-term projects to support delivery of services. I look at patient flow and bed capacity, trouble shoot and link with external agencies to ensure patients receive the required care. I have formal meetings with the wider hospital including the directorate and divisional boards. We are held to account for delivery against national and local standards, and financial management, and are required to provide assurance regarding governance and quality of care.

“My role sees me working with the wider health system to look at how healthcare is delivered across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in response to national policy changes. We have developed alternative models of care delivery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce those attending emergency departments, redirecting to other services and implementing video consultations through 111. I also led the introduction of St John Ambulance volunteers to support our Emergency Department in response to the pandemic, a model that has been rolled out to a number of other hospitals across the country. This model will now become a permanent arrangement.

Overcoming obstacles to pursue his goals

“I am proud of my role and the qualification that’s helped me to get there. But it hasn’t been without its obstacles. My biggest challenge during my Master’s was studying or writing assignments when I was exhausted from shift work whilst keeping myself motivated at these times. I achieved it, but it was extremely difficult. I’d underestimated how tough this would be. 

“I also experienced a period of poor mental health during my MBA which made it very difficult to concentrate and apply myself, but thankfully my tutor was very supportive. We agreed on using the substitution rule for one of the assignments during my strategy module, rather than putting even more pressure on myself.”

OUBS gets the thumbs up from David

“The best thing about my OU study was the self-directed learning and being able to study at times that suited me, around my shift work. I would thoroughly recommend study with the OU. The quality of the materials and assessment process is second to none. The triple-accredited OU MBA is recognised globally and will open up doors that you never knew existed.”