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Armed Forces Day 2024: How being in the Army Reserves supported Mark’s career in the NHS

Image of a colleague in Armed Forces uniform with text reading: Armed Forces Day 2024
29 June 2024

Mark Randall, Engagement Lead for Clinical Coding and Co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Network at Sheffield Children’s, recently visited Germany as part of a top-notch, ten-day trip.

Given the recent football fever that has gripped the nation, you’d be forgiven in thinking that Mark had taken a vacation to cheer the three lions on to victory in the ongoing Euro 2024 tournament. Instead, Mark found himself attached to a regular armed forces unit, delivering presentations and supporting troop commanders in fulfilling their daily tasks.

Mark is an Army Reservist, a position that means that he spends at least 27 days per year taking part in mandatory and exercise training with fellow Armed Forces personnel. Mark said: “A large part of the 27-day commitment is two weeks of continuous training. That can involve being deployed with my own unit, attached to another unit as a trawl, or doing another training course in its place. I decided to do a trawl, and that is how I got the chance to work with a unit in Germany.”

Sheffield Children’s recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant and was accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’ by the National Steering Group for the NHS Veteran Covenant Healthcare Alliance. The Trust is working hard to support members of staff like Mark to balance their Armed Forces responsibilities with their NHS careers. Mark said: “To be part of one of the biggest exercises that the British Army have done for a while was thrilling. As Army Reservists, we are granted additional days of leave to make sure that we are able to fulfil our duties. It can be very demanding work, but I’m really grateful for the support that Sheffield Children’s has given so far. I hope that we can continue to build on this and offer even more support as we embed the Armed Forces Covenant even further.”

Mark joined the Army Reserve over 20 years ago whilst studying at the University of Sheffield, following in his dad’s footsteps. Mark said: “My dad was in the reserves, but it never crossed my mind that I would do it just because he did it. When studying at the University of Sheffield, I signed up with The University Officers’ Training Corps, which recruits students and allows them to gather experience of being part of the Armed Forces. When I finished university, I wanted to continue that service, but I didn’t want to commit to doing it full-time. Instead, I found that I was able to fit a part-time reservist career around my drive to work as part of an NHS healthcare provider, so I took that route.”

Having now worked at Sheffield Children’s in his current role for seven years, Mark works hard to support patients, families, and staff members across our community in a compassionate manner. Mark said: “I always wanted to stay in Sheffield, I just fell in love with the city when I was at university. Working as part of the NHS in Sheffield, I really feel like I’m able to make a difference to our community. In my role I work closely alongside the coding team, who enter data about inpatient activity. It’s up to myself and two colleagues to support and educate clinical staff on documentation, and to work on projects to gather more information and data to input in our system so that we are able to better support patients and families.”

Drawing on his extensive Armed Forces experience, Mark has been able to use transferable skills in his role within the NHS. Mark said: “I enjoy the problem-solving element of my role at Sheffield Children’s, bringing data to the forefront and working on projects with teams to solve problems to make sure that they are able to do their jobs in the most straightforward way possible. Being an Army Reservist breeds different ways of thinking and is a very collaborative environment, so is helpful when approaching problems to solve. It’s good to have an external perspective and brings a new dynamic to problem solving.”

“I have found that my skills as an Army Reservist have been very helpful in my role overall at Sheffield Children’s, whether that be leading my team to produce outstanding work or supporting members of staff during a crisis. It has really equipped me with some unique skills which I have been able to use to support patients and families who visit us at Sheffield Children’s”

We’d like to thank Mark for sharing his story with us. For more information about Sheffield Children’s commitment to our Armed Forces community, please visit the website.

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