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A graduation first for UCLan’s Health Informatics programme

18 July 2013

Rachel Atkinson

Clinical coding manager goes from Foundation Degree to Masters without a break

Pic: University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate Nicola Seaton who is the first person to have completed all stages of the Health Informatics course without a break.

A clinical coding manager from Cambridge is the first University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student to complete all stages of the Health Informatics course without a break.

Nicola Seaton embarked on her foundation degree six years ago and graduated last week with a Masters in Health Informatics.

She is an employee of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHFT), also known as Addenbrookes Hospital, which is world famous in many fields of expertise. Nicola continued to work there throughout her years of study.

Her courses combined a mix of on-campus days with weekend residentials and distance learning, although Nicola admits the first two years of full-time work and full-time study were the hardest.

Throughout her career, Nicola has been lucky to be part of some of the biggest developments in clinical coding at Addenbrookes, not to mention being chosen for a special project as a result of her expertise. The project enabled surgeons to enter coded data themselves to allow for more accurate readings which incorporated national standards of coding.


“My studies have opened so many doors for me in terms of applying theory to the practical every day work. It has also allowed me to feedback the learning to Addenbrookes and to create a platform of debate and knowledge sharing."

Addenbrookes has procured a complete electronic information system from America, which will allow the hospital to be the first in the UK to go fully electronic in all aspects of data collection. The project is known as ‘eHospital’ – with the ‘big switch over’ scheduled for 25 October next year. Nicola has been seconded to this project as an application analyst and is currently working towards its implementation.

Nicola said: “My studies have opened so many doors for me in terms of applying theory to the practical every day work. It has also allowed me to feedback the learning to Addenbrookes and to create a platform of debate and knowledge sharing with other colleagues and directors. My own director had completed a Masters in Health Informatics previously, so learning was definitely encouraged.”

Nicola’s success story however is also tinged with sadness. Her partner Marcello passed away in January of this year but luckily he did get to know her final mark. He was a great support to her and got to meet all of her tutors at UCLan. Nicola dedicated her dissertation to his memory as he so often kept her on track and was extremely proud of her.

Her father is also no longer with her but still a big encouragement. “My father was an avid learner and I have always strived to follow in his footsteps,” said Nicola. “I know he’d be hugely proud of my achievements. I looked at his degree certificate before graduating and to my surprise, we both graduated on exactly the same day - 8 July. That gave me a fantastic boost and put a smile on my face as I knew both dad and Marcello were there with me.”