Meet your Critical Care Programme Leader, Dr Nick Stallard MB BCh FRCA


Ahead of the launch of our first-ever Critical Care course intake in March 2024, we caught up with Programme Leader Dr. Nick Stallard MB BCh FRCA. In our exclusive Q&A, Dr. Stallard unveiled the motivations that drive his unwavering dedication to Critical Care.

From playing a pivotal role in patients' remarkable recoveries to ensuring dignity and respect in end-of-life care, Dr Stallard's insights resonate with the heart of our new programme. His vision for Learna's Critical Care courses is clear - to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life clinical scenarios.

In this blog, we embark on a journey into the fast-paced world of Critical Care with our esteemed Programme Leader, Dr. Nick Stallard. A seasoned medical professional with an extensive background in intensive care medicine, Dr. Stallard brings a wealth of experience to Learna | Diploma MSc's groundbreaking Critical Care programme.

As we prepare for our first online Critical Care courses in March 2024, led by Dr. Stallard alongside a faculty of expert tutors, the opportunity to upskill in this crucial and endlessly rewarding field awaits you.

Choose from our comprehensive 2-year MSc Critical Care programme, a 1-year Postgraduate Diploma in Critical Care, or a concise 6-month Postgraduate Certificate in Critical Care. These programmes are suitable for a range of healthcare professionals with a relevant undergraduate degree, and are particularly suited to Emergency Care Nurses and Paramedics.

Dr. Nick Stallard's background in Critical Care

Having qualified in medicine alongside our very own founder Prof. Steve Davies in 1989, Dr. Nick Stallard is no stranger to Learna | Diploma MSc and our renowned online learning platform.

His early training and specialism was in dual positions in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine, at a time when formal, specialised training in critical care was lacking for healthcare professionals. Since November 1997, Dr Stallard has worked as a Consultant in Critical Care Medicine for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Dr Stallard is passionate about delivering high-quality, dignified and compassionate care to the patients under his care. He is also committed to providing valuable online postgraduate medical education, having served as Course Director for the RCS sponsored Critical Care in Surgical Patients (CCRiSP) course in Cardiff.

He wanted to specialise in an area of medicine where he was able to make a real impact, and quickly discovered critical care to be an extremely rewarding field of practice. Not only is critical care a rewarding profession in which he is able to make a real impact on the lives of patients, it is also a field that is rapidly growing and in high demand. When Dr Stallard started working in Cardiff ICU, there were just 6 consultants and 9 beds in the unit. Today, there are 27 consultants and 36 beds.

What inspires and motivates Dr Stallard in the field of Critical Care?

There are a whole number of motivations that make Dr Stallard’s career in critical care so meaningful, which can be broken down into 3 main reasons. He explains;

“Being able to play an integral role in the recovery and rehabilitation of patients who are in critical condition, in many cases where their recovery was unlikely, and seeing those patients returning to their families and normal life. There is no feeling more rewarding than this.

I have kept in touch with a number of patients throughout my career who appreciated the dignity and compassion that we treated them with, and were endlessly grateful to be alive as a result of our work.”

Another aspect that inspires Dr Nick Stallard is the importance of ensuring that patients at the end of their lives, and their loved ones, are treated with the respect they deserve - and Dr Stallard and his team have been recognised for their consistent efforts in achieving this challenging task.

A further impact that cannot be overlooked is that of organ donation, and the life-changing effect this initiative has on other patients in critical need. Dr Stallard works closely with families to share the impact that their lost loved one can make.

Tell us about your specialist interest within Critical Care

“I am passionate about community ventilation, and maximising the quality of life for patients with complex ventilation needs.

In my role in the care of invasively ventilated patients in the community, I engage in sessional commitments, supported by the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC), an office of the Welsh Assembly Government. This unique responsibility empowers me to support individuals facing complex challenges - whether from spinal cord injuries or neuromuscular diseases - necessitating invasive ventilation through a tracheostomy. Collaborating with local health boards and other stakeholders, I actively contribute to creating and implementing appropriate care packages for this specialised patient group.

Additionally, I’m dedicated to the Welsh Spinal Injuries and Rehabilitation unit at Rookwood Hospital. Within the multidisciplinary team, I provide crucial support to patients with spinal injuries or traumatic brain injury, offering advanced respiratory support to facilitate their recovery.

My commitment to critical care extends beyond clinical practice - I have a profound interest in postgraduate education. Having served as the Course Director for the RCS sponsored Critical Care in Surgical Patients (CCRiSP) course in Cardiff, I have played a pivotal role in educating trainee surgeons in the recognition and management of sick surgical patients at ward level. I am also an Instructor for the ATLS course, contributing to the training and development of healthcare professionals in advanced trauma life support.

In each facet of my work, I am fueled by a fervent dedication to making a positive impact, whether at the community level, within specialised units, or in shaping the future of medical education.”

In your opinion, what are the benefits of this Critical Care Course for students?

“Students of our Critical Care Courses will be empowered with the skills and knowledge to understand the decisions they, and their team, make to best impact patients.

By understanding why certain decisions are made, healthcare professionals can better understand the role that they play in a patient’s treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, and ultimately this will improve the care they are able to provide.

We ensure learning is in line with the latest advancements in technology and research in critical care, allowing students to progress their careers and stay ahead with the most up to date knowledge.”

What are some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare professionals in Critical Care?

“Despite being an immensely rewarding field of work, there is no denying that a career in Critical Care, and the pressure of working on an ICU ward, can be extremely challenging. You have to make some very difficult decisions which impact the lives of your patients.

It can be tiring, and some people experience burn out - this was particularly prevalent during the Covid pandemic.

Nowadays critical care is highly specialised and anyone working in the field needs adequate, high-quality training. There are not enough staff to meet the demands of units, and of patients - it’s a field where there’s definitely a need for more skilled professionals to meet the rising demands.

Staff who come into this field want (and need) to be empowered with the skills and knowledge required to do their jobs effectively, and that’s where courses like this one come in.”

What makes Learna’s Critical Care programme unique?

“Unlike other postgraduate Critical Care programmes which can be very literature intensive, Learna’s Critical Care programmes are evidence-based, built upon the situations most commonly encountered in ICU units. Our Critical Care Postgraduate courses are based on demand and designed to prepare students directly for real-life clinical scenarios - the practical applications are irrefutable.

We include a full module on Ethics and Law, with emphasis on end of life care, something which requires a great deal of sensitivity and judgement, and can be very difficult to prepare for. By including a focus on this in our Critical Care MSc, PGDip and PGCert programmes, we address one of the biggest challenges faced by professionals in the critical care sector.”

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Critical Care?

“Just do it, it’s the best decision you will ever make.
Young doctors that I work with are really enjoying their new career path.

It’s one of the most rewarding fields of healthcare to work in and being able to reunite patients recovering from critical illness with their loved ones is a feeling that's incomparable to any other.”

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, Dr Stallard is passionate about food, drink and travel. He has crowdfunded 3 innovative, up-and-coming restaurants in Cardiff including Cora and Hiraeth, and enjoys nothing more than trying new delicacies, spending quality time with family and friends.

Take your Critical Care career to the next level this Spring

Inspired by Dr Stallard’s experience and outlook? If you’re ready to upskill in this crucial and rewarding field, you have the opportunity to learn from Dr. Nick Stallard himself as you embark on this exciting journey.

While there are a number of options available if you’re looking to study a Critical Care Course online in the UK, we are proud to offer postgraduate Critical Care programmes that cater to a global audience. With no international surcharges and no fixed times to log in, you will benefit from joining a global network of multidisciplinary healthcare professionals, with whom you can share experiences and best practices around the world.

Our world-leading online platform is designed by healthcare professionals, for healthcare professionals. Opting for our Critical Care Course (distance learning) will empower you with the flexibility to balance your studies alongside working full-time, and other personal and professional commitments. The flexible nature of our learning platform puts you in charge of your education; you can log in daily and study at a time that suits you.

Studying our Critical Care course online for nurses, doctors and paramedics will allow you to progress your career and improve the quality of care your patients receive as you become part of a wider movement of improving healthcare provision on a global scale.

Not only will you be guided academically by experts including Dr Nick Stallard, you will also receive dedicated support from our Student Services team on your journey to achieving a highly-sought-after postgraduate qualification, validated by the University of Buckingham.

Ready to take the next steps and receive a highly regarded qualification in Critical Care? Apply today to join our first ever Critical Care cohort in March 2024!