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News > Alumni Career Profiles > Hannah Ridings (Class of 2018)

Hannah Ridings (Class of 2018)

Assistant Psychologist within the Paediatric Psychosocial Service at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital
14 Mar 2024
United Kingdom
Alumni Career Profiles

It has been fantastic to catch up with Old Girl Hannah Ridings from the Class of 2018, a recent graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University, with an MSc in Psychological Well-being in Clinical Practice. Hannah’s first Assistant Psychologist (AP) post was from September 2022 – September 2023 in a secure mental health rehabilitation unit working with service users experiencing Psychosis and Schizophrenia. Her current AP post is within Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, specifically The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. 

What does your role involve, what is an average day like for you? 

I work as an Assistant Psychologist within the Paediatric Psychosocial Service at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, specialising in Cleft Lip and Palate. Although I work in Cleft, I am involved with many other specialties, such as undertaking neuropsychological assessments, family therapy sessions, and helping to run pregnancy groups. 

Each day is different, but my main duties involve clinical tasks, service evaluation and audit, assistance with teaching and research tasks, planning and organisation. I regularly meet with children and adults born with Cleft lip and/or Palate in clinics. This is where patients attend appointments with surgeons, dentists, audiologists, speech therapists and psychologists. I help them to explore how they are thinking and feeling about their Cleft Lip and/or Palate and collect data from them using questionnaires. This is my favourite part of my job, as I really enjoy speaking directly with patients. I also facilitate 1:1 sessions with children experiencing psychological difficulties due to medical conditions and issues, such as cleft, chronic pain, visible differences, or neurological problems. 

My role is quite flexible and allows me to take part in lots of other jobs within the trust. As mentioned previously, I also assist with Family Therapy, where I work with families to promote positive interactions and dynamics in weekly sessions. Running a pregnancy group for mothers expecting babies with cleft can help to alleviate any anxieties they might have about giving birth to a child with a visible difference and potential medical difficulties. Lastly, I assist with the Tree of Life Group, where children and young people with medical conditions can meet others like them and discuss their hopes, strengths, and challenges. 

To summarise, although there are some constants of the job, such as clinics, audits, assessments and 1:1 sessions with patients, no two days are the same. My role allows me to meet and interact with people of all ages from all areas of life, helping to alleviate and prevent any psychological issues and concerns. 

Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job? 

For any job within the mental health sector, I believe is it essential to have passion and empathy. My role requires me to interact with people who are experiencing serious psychological issues, and to help them through these hard times. As an Assistant Psychologist, it is imperative that I have the skills and qualities to be able to sit with someone in distress and manage this calmly. 

Assistant Psychologist posts are fast paced, and you do a lot of learning on-the-job. They are usually only 12-month contracts, as it is important for Assistants to move through as many different types of services as possible to gain experience for the Doctorate. For this reason, I think it is essential that prospective Assistants should be motivated to learn and take on new experiences. 

Ultimately, I think it is important for prospective Assistant Psychologists to be empathetic, kind, caring, passionate, and motivated as we work with vulnerable people who need help and understanding. 

What do you like most about your job? 

My favourite part of my job is working directly with patients and meeting different people, of all ages and abilities, every single day. When working directly with people, whether that be for cognitive assessments, group work, or 1-1 sessions, you can see the difference you are helping to make in their lives, which is extremely rewarding. 

I also really enjoy working with like-minded and supportive clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and assistant psychologists. As mental health professionals we are a team, all working to alleviate symptoms of negative mental health in patients. During my time as an Assistant Psychologist, I have received so many words of wisdom and learned so many valuable lessons from professionals around me. When working with a group of psychologists, it can get quite philosophical in the office! 

Your advice to our current students thinking of studying psychology? 

Do it! I think psychology is absolutely fascinating, and you do not necessarily need to be aiming for a career in psychology to enjoy it. By studying Psychology, you can venture into many different university courses and professions, such as Clinical Psychology (the best!), Health Psychology, Business Psychology, Sport Psychology, Educational Psychology, Occupational Psychology, Marketing, Management, and HR, to name a few. 

Despite offering many fantastic career avenues, studying psychology at A Level teaches you valuable life skills such as effective communication, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, empathy, problem-solving and so much more. 

Where do you hope to be professionally in 10 years’ time? 

In 10 years’ time I will be a qualified Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Ridings! I also hope to work part time for the NHS and part time in my own private practice. 

When you look back at your time at BGS, what are some of your fondest memories? 

I cannot believe it has already been over 5 years since I completed my A Levels and said goodbye to Bury Grammar School. A quick message to all current students – enjoy every moment, it goes by very quickly! 

I’m afraid my fondest memories are pretty cliché, as I’m sure many Old Girls and Boys would mention the same. Of course, I enjoyed Founders’ Day, and the sense of pride walking to the church with the school to celebrate. Christmas at BGS was always fun with the House Music competitions, although I don’t think I ever witnessed a Neild victory! 

I look back at my psychology lessons with great fondness (and no, I’m not just saying that!). I learned from an amazing teacher, Ms McDermott, and she taught me with such passion for the subject. Before studying Psychology at A Level, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, but Ms McDermott helped me to realise my potential and my career path. I am so thankful for this. 

During my time at BGS, I think I took some things for granted. Looking back, and thinking of sitting in the Roger Kay Hall, I definitely did not realise how lucky I was to be a part of a school with such rich history. 

Thank you, BGS! 


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