Advice on starting the scheme and seizing opportunities
Somehow, in the background of all the working, travelling, scheme events and more travelling that has happened, June has appeared. For the 2017 intake, that means that over the last few months the general train of thought has moved towards flexi-placement planning and securing final placements, which has been exciting in itself. It’s also made me stop and reflect on the past nine (!) months and how it has been.
For me, as a new graduate, the most terrifying thing has been that the claims of ‘real responsibility from day one’ are oh so real. In glorious naivety (I don’t think it came from a place of arrogance), I assumed I’d happily take this in my stride – after all, I’d been responsible for myself, my work and leading the odd extra-curricular club or two at uni, so how different could it be really? Answer: hugely. It’s been a fantastic way to start off though as I’ve now reached the point where I can look back and say ‘I organised/did/led that’ which is an amazing feeling and has helped me learn at a much quicker pace than if someone was guiding my every move.
For all the 2018 intake (congratulations!!), you’ll hear a lot over the next few months about life on the scheme, what to expect as you start your first placements and all the scheme events that will take place over your first few weeks. Looking back now, I was definitely a bit overwhelmed for my first few months on the scheme – I was enjoying it, but had underestimated entirely how much of a change moving to a completely new place and starting a completely new job in a completely new organisation would be!
The team I work in were very welcoming, and my manager very approachable and supportive, but it was all too easy to compare what I was up to to the other grads and worry that it wasn’t ‘enough’. I don’t mean in terms of the work I had been assigned, more in terms of orienting myself within the Trust, meeting the people I felt like I ‘should’ meet and generally being engaged in everything that was going on in the Trust.
I can now say, and I think this is a really important thing to remember starting the scheme, that actually I had nothing to worry about. It may sound blindingly obvious, but a year is a significant chunk of time and it’s ok to take the first few months at your own pace and allow yourself to find your feet. In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a Board Meeting, meet various members of the exec and non-exec teams in the Trust and have some really valuable conversations off the back of this. Taking my time to gain a better understanding of the Trust and the wider NHS landscape actually helped make these conversations even more helpful; and some things that have been mentioned have tied in really nicely with the content of the Elizabeth Garret Anderson Award.
No two experiences on the scheme are quite the same, nor should they be as it reflects the diverse nature of work within the NHS. It is nice to be able to exchange views on placements, and to discuss what other grads are up to – it is often very interesting and gives a measure of how other placements are run, but as long as you feel the work you are getting to do is providing enough ‘stretch’, don’t be afraid to take things at a pace that feels right to you! The opportunities to get out and do things won’t disappear and you’ll probably find you end up doing more of them and at a much more comfortable rate if you take your time than if you feel pressured to rush and book everything in. The scheme is built for experiences, and as long as you’re engaged and enthusiastic, you’ll get to this point next year and be amazed by how much you’ve learnt and the opportunities you’ve been able to take advantage of.
Good luck, and if you’re in the East Mids, I’ll hopefully see you soon!