One of North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust’s physiotherapists has successfully completed gruelling physical and mental challenges at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to gain promotion to Second Lieutenant.
Reservist Celina Hernandez works as a physiotherapist with the Workington Community Rehabilitation Team. She undertakes her army reservist role alongside this.
She said: “I’ve been a reservist for eight years. Previously I was an Air Cadet, this is where I initially gained an interest for the military. Once I had aged out of cadets, I was at university so joined the University Officer Training Corps (UOTC). When I finished university, I transferred across to the Royal Signals as a Combat Medical Technician which is where I’ve been up until now.
“In 2021, I decided that I had outgrown this role and looked for a new challenge. I was steered in the direction of becoming an officer and taking on more responsibility and gaining both managerial experience as well as additional qualifications. This was something that appealed to me as it would obviously help me develop within both the Army and the NHS.”
Celina’s recent course – which she completed in her own time - was a combination of both physical and mental tests. Each module included a field exercise for four days, classroom based sessions and physical training sessions to test mental resilience. In addition to this, there were also several academic tests to check the knowledge and understanding of the information participants had been studying each module.
Celina explains why she decided to do the course.
“I had become a little settled in the role I was previously in and felt as if I wasn’t being challenged as much as I would have liked,” she said.
“After looking at the promotional opportunities available and the limited additional training available in my previous role, I decided to look further afield and decided that commissioning and becoming an officer may be the new challenge I needed.
“It is definitely the hardest thing I have ever completed in my entire life, both mentally and physically. It has taught me that I can work under extreme pressure and under extremely stressful situations and can still perform effectively. It has also taught me that despite being food and sleep deprived, I am still able to be in a position of responsibility and continue to be a role model to my peers and junior ranks. It has also helped me develop several academic/managerial skills which I am already utilising regularly in both the Army and the NHS.
“I feel that everything the Army instils in its soldiers can be utilised within the NHS.
“Being able to work under extreme pressure/time constraints and being able to remain calm in stressful situations has meant that I have been able to contribute effectively to my team. Particularly when faced with adversity such as a pandemic or staffing strikes, when patients are unwell or in crisis.
“It has also taught me about key management skills such as personnel management and dealing with difficult conversations, both things I need to utilise daily within my role as a senior physiotherapist. I honestly don’t know where I would be without the support the Army has provided me throughout the majority of my adult life.”
Teresa Griffiths, a non-executive director at NCIC and chair of the Trust’s Armed Forces Working Group, said: “What is so great about this achievement is that Celina has had to give up lots of her own personal time to achieve this success. The skills that she will gain as a commissioned officer will greatly impact her future military journey but NCIC will also benefit as many of these skills and competencies are transferable to her NHS role.
“Huge congratulations Celina – you have demonstrated real dedication and commitment in achieving such success – we are all very proud of you.”