Victoria Kidgell graduated in 2011 having completed her PhD in Civil and Computational Engineering. Victoria also completed a MEng in Mechanical Engineering and an MRes in Civil and Computational Engineering. She is currently a trainee Clinical Scientist at the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Oswestry.
Why did you decide to study at Swansea University?
The location was great and the welcome from staff and students on the open day was fantastic. They were very friendly and helpful and made me feel at home.
What did you enjoy most about your course at Swansea?
The lecturers were all very helpful, made time for you and gave you any help you needed. I made some great friends on my course that I still keep in contact with now.
What are you doing now career-wise?
I am a trainee Clinical Scientist at the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Oswestry. I am specialising in Rehabilitation Engineering, which includes the application of engineering principles and materials technology to healthcare. This can include researching, designing and developing medical products, such as joint replacements or robotic surgical instruments, designing or modifying equipment for clients with special needs in a rehabilitation setting, or managing the use of clinical equipment in hospitals and the community.
How has Swansea University and your course helped you with your chosen career path?
My PhD research was the simulation of the femur for patients with osteoporosis who have suffered a fracture following a fall. I then investigated the effect of subsequent falls along with developing a microscale model of trabecular bone. This really sparked my interest in the medical field, and my current role allows me to have a career combining the two aspects of medicine and engineering.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
It’s very difficult when we are not able to provide the treatment and outcome that the patient wants. Often patients and carers have unrealistic expectations and it’s very difficult when it doesn’t meet those expectations. It can make you feel like you have let them down.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
We see a wide range of patients, many with quite severe injuries and disabilities. Often they have had no previous luck finding suitable treatment options. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help them and provide them with treatment that can improve their lives. It’s great when someone is so happy with the treatment you provide and you know it is going to make a difference to them.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
Following an industrial placement during my undergraduate degree, I realised that working in industry was not for me and I felt rather down about my career prospects. However, my parents told me that engineering was such a broad field with so many different opportunities. They encouraged me to look around and see what was available in an area I was interested in and then just go for it. Luckily I found a career I love in Clinical Engineering and I have not looked back!
What advice do you have for current students and new graduates?
If you feel you are stuck in a degree or job that you don’t like and it’s making you miserable, make the change and find something you love. It’s never too late to change your career path and your life will be so much happier.
What are your plans for the future?
I have two more years left on my training scheme with the NHS. Following this, I will register as a Clinical Scientist. My eventual aim is to work abroad, with hopefully some time spent in the developing world providing rehabilitation engineering solutions.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Graduating from my PhD was one of the proudest moments in my life. There were times that I thought it would never happen as it was a very hard slog. But I got there in the end and it’s made my parents very proud!
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Swansea?
I spent nine years living in Swansea and had a great time there. I spent my first year living in the Student Village and then moved out to Uplands for the remaining time. I made some great friends and had a very active social life. I was a member of the Jiu Jitsu Club for the entire nine years (I joined in Freshers week of my first year) and held the committee roles of Treasurer, Secretary and Captain. During my time there I also took part in national competitions.
One of the best parts of being in Swansea was the proximity to the Gower and the Brecon Beacons. I love being outdoors and I worked for the council running the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in youth clubs in Swansea for several years. It was great to have the Gower and the mountains so close at hand to take the young people to on expeditions.
And of course, it was great being right on Swansea Bay – the beach was always great for having bbqs with friends.
And finally, describe yourself in 3 words…
Ambitious, traveller, independent.