17 Apr 2019

by Chloe Adams, a dietitian working at The British Dietetics Association, as a Policy Officer for Professional Practice. 

Applying for the Chief Allied Healthcare Professional Officer Award (CAHPO) award is easier than you might think! There are various different categories, so you can select to apply for the category you feel is most applicable for you or your colleague. The following categories are available to apply for:

  • AHP Leader of the Year 2019
  • AHP Student of the Year 2019
  • AHP Public Health Champion 2019
  • AHP Quality Improvement 2019
  • AHP Workforce 2019
  • AHP Digital Practice 2019
  • AHP Clinical Focus 2019: Cancer
  • NICE into Action 2019
  • AHP Research Impact 2019
  • AHP of the Year 2019

The structure of the application is nice and clear. It simply asks for you to outline the problem, how you aimed to address this, objectives, plan and methods of implementation, ways of evaluation, impact of the project, and challenges you overcame. So, if you have completed a project at work which has led to improved clinical effectiveness and patient care, why not apply?! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!

The application processes its self is actually a great CPD activity. It provides you with the space to think about the project you have been involved with more clearly, and encourages you to reflect in a structured way. The act of writing positively about a project you have been involved with also helps to build confidence and self-esteem, as it provides an opportunity for you to focus on internal praise. The ability to acknowledge the good work you do internally is a really important part of understanding your own worth. It is not “showing off” or “blowing your own trumpet”, it is a really useful exercise to take a step back to recognise your own achievements and potential. The purpose of CPD is not just building your knowledge, it is about developing professionally; focusing on building your communication skills, and professionalism – confidence in your own competence is key.

Applying for the CAHPO Award is not just good for you it is good for your profession. It helps to raise the profile of dietetics! Dietitians are awesome! Historically as a collective we have always been a little too modest – to quote Judyth Jenkins, Head of Dietetic Services at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, “Dietitians are the bedrock of health care, without adequate nutrition and hydration there is no point in other health professionals having an input, it would be a waste”. I absolutely love this, it is so true! If you don’t apply for yourself, apply for your profession, and support the BDA in being bold and having an impact.

I applied for the Leadership category for the simplistic reason that I led on setting up a new dietitian led community gastroenterology service. One of the reasons I won was because I applied for myself! Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professional Officer for England explained this to me. She explained leadership is the ability to display a sense of power and confidence (something I had lost for a little while). Further this it was for demonstrating behaviours of leadership early on into my career. It was how I had acted with integrity, and had gone above and beyond what was expected of me to improve patient care on a large scale. I found it overwhelming to her this, as I’m very modest about my ability. Though it is what I needed to hear after having my confidence knocked. Recognition at this level felt incredible, and it gave me perspective.

When I went along to the AHPO conference the next day the congratulations I got from The British Dietetic Association was equally overwhelming. A lady I had never met ran over to me and gave me the biggest hug, I found out she was Najia Qureshi, head of education of professional development at the BDA – now my manager! She is super enthusiastic, compassionate, inspiring and an absolute pleasure to work for.

For winning I was provided with a careers coach – Laura Rogers, AHP Fellow at Health Education England. She supported in getting me to this point. Having a careers coach was really useful. It allowed me the space to think about my career progression more clearly. I had all the options for an AHP explained to me. And then thinking about me experience, skills and abilities, I was encouraged to think about what direction I would like to take my career. It was interesting to find out all the different ways I could still influence patient care without having direct contact with patients. The BDA featuring as part of my thought process.

In October later, last year I was at a meeting at the BDA volunteering for an outcomes project they were working on, and found out a job was being advertised for a Policy Officer for Professional Practice. If I hadn’t explored career options with my career coach I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought, as I had always wanted to work within the NHS. Though after reading the job description as I was encouraged to do so, I decided to go for it. Ultimately, winning the CAHPO Leadership Award got me a fantastic job influencing patient care from the BDA, by supporting dietitians in clinical practice through influencing policy and initiative.

How to apply

Two dietitians won last year - let’s see how we can do as a profession this year too!

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