Dr Helen Smith


With a professional background in nursing, Helen has over 25 years national and international experience of working at the interface of healthcare policy, practice and education. Having recently taken on the role of Director of Student Education at the School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, she is privileged to be part of a great team of educators, researchers and scholars who are, in their various ways, leading and shaping the future of multi-professional healthcare education. Keen to influence the future of nursing education and its recognition in the provision of outstanding healthcare practice, Helen has recently contributed to the Council of Dean's advisory group on the Future of Nurse Education and completed her PhD which focused on the role of curiosity in developing nursing knowledge to improve practice.

As well as shaping the quality and impact of education in the School of Healthcare, Helen also leads post graduate teaching in Innovation and Leadership in Health and Social Care. She is co-supervising two PhD students, is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and works alongside the student body to encourage and promote their leadership capability and confidence, so students are better prepared to enter and lead in today's world of complex healthcare.
Her main academic interests’ focus upon the development and use of pragmatic methods which enable healthcare practitioners to make sense of their world and to develop practice through building knowledge and skills to improve patient care. Her joint work on corporate level practice development has been adapted as a strategic model by NHS Improvement Scotland.

Helen has been the recipient of two prestigious awards for leading practice development initiatives and influencing practice change in the USA and for leading service developments for learning disability and palliative care in Malaysia. She has worked in conjunction with organisations such as the Malaysian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation and the Canadian Government to secure high level support to initiate policy, develop practice and services and sustain healthcare improvements.  Helen has held various director and executive level posts in the private and voluntary healthcare sectors. 


  • Director of Student Education


  • PhD - Univ Leeds
  • MSc Palliative Care - Univ London
  • PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education - Univ Leeds
  • Registered Nurse - Nursing and Midwifery Council

Professional memberships

  • Fellowship Higher Education Academy

Student education

 My main contributions are within my areas of expertise in healthcare improvement, innovation and leadership, contributing at Undergraduate and Post Graduate levels, across professional groups.

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>