General Management

A “Normal” Working Day for a General Management Trainee in 10 moments

Posted by Fiona Woodhall, 18 Jan 2017

One of the main questions I had when I was applying to the scheme was “What is your normal working day like?” Since starting on the scheme I still ask myself what a normal day for me is, and as everyone is on different streams and in different trusts, if I had a normal day it would be completely different to another graduate’s.

However, I thought this month I’d tell you about 10 things I did last month, in 100 words or less for each, in an effort to answer that question. Hopefully, it will help you to see the variety of experiences that the scheme brings.

1.  Website meeting with research partners

My department has a research partnership with a local university who have assisted with the management of our website. Now that I’m in post, the decision was made to transfer management solely to our department so I had a solo meeting with the research team to discuss how you move a website, and what the future for it was. Not a typical job for a General Management Trainee, I’ve needed plenty of help with the technology side, but this was the first project I was given where I had full responsibility for the decisions.

2.  Public Sector Panel at the University of York

I really enjoy talking to graduates about the scheme, and helping them decide if it’s right for them, so I volunteer for every opportunity I get to do this. In November, I was invited to the University of York to attend their Public Sector Panel, a careers event with four other public sector companies. I had plenty of questions about applications and ended up writing a guest blog for the university to point students towards all the different Social Media outlets that graduates on the scheme use for any further questions.

 

3.  Trust Board Presentation

Having spent over 20-days shadowing different departments and trusts within the NHS, myself and my fellow two graduates within the trust, were invited to present our experiences to the trust board. Beforehand, we had a presentation workshop to help us make the best impact on the day. Whilst presenting, I realised that of the fourteen people in the room, including three trainees, half of them were either on the graduate scheme or alumni. For the alumni, it was a great opportunity to remember the start of their journey and, for the trainees we could see the possibilities of our own.

 
4.  Training and Development Record

I have been working with the training officer in my department to create a bespoke training record for the staff. Whilst the department monitors everyone’s training, it is done differently for each member of staff, and there is no way to look at the entire department as a whole. So I offered to help create a standardised record for all staff, and a way to look at the entire department’s skills range as well. Next, I hope to use this to develop career development plans for current staff and build on plans for the future workforce.


5.  Residential for the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme

Every now and then, I have a few days out of the office to go on residential as part of the education for the wider scheme. My first was a four-day residential for the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme. This is the postgraduate course every graduate undertakes in order to develop your leadership skills. I don’t want to spoil the surprise of what happens during the residential but there are plenty of activities, lots of talking and listening, and a large amount of time spent catching-up with graduates you haven’t seen since the Welcome Event.


6.  Social Media and Digital Day

Occasionally, graduates are invited to events that might help in our development. Unlike the educational parts of the scheme, these events aren’t compulsory so not everyone goes to every one. The first one I attended was about how to engage staff and develop the NHS through social media and the use of digital platforms. This event happened to be organised by graduates on the scheme, however, normally they aren’t. For example, a few weeks later I went to the Leadership Awards for Yorkshire and Humber region and heard from speakers discussing resilience and leadership within the workplace


7.  Business Continuity Plan

More aligned to my role as Business Manager within the department, I worked with another member of staff to develop a Business Continuity Plan - essentially a plan of what to do in the event of a disruption. We covered issues such as a failure in public transport, influenza, severe weather and a loss of electricity. As two fairly optimistic people it was difficult to think about worst case scenarios, but we found it extremely helpful to consider not only what to do if they happened, but also what to do now to try to reduce any impacts.


8.  Trust Board Meeting

Another graduate at my trust and I went to attend one the public board meetings of the trust. The afternoon was filled with reports about the current trust standing in various areas, as well as presentations on projects on-going within the trust. I found it extremely useful to understanding the high level vision for the trust as I could start to see how my department fits into the bigger picture. As a result, we were invited to see the morning session of the board meeting, invite only, to see how some of the decisions presented in the afternoon session occur.

9. PALS Inquiry

As part of my competencies for the scheme - skills and task everyone must do to finish the scheme - I have to show I have had regular contact with patients, and families, including handling complaints. Last month, I was given my first PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) inquiry. It was an important experience for me as what appeared as a simple question at first resulted in multiple phone calls to several people. A successful result was achieved but it reinforced the concept that nothing is as simple as it might seem at first.  


10.  Yorkshire and Humber Trainee Forum

Finally, as a graduate on the scheme, you are one of many - in my year there are 112 graduates. Both cohorts (2015 and 2016) of the Yorkshire and Humber region came together for a full-day forum. It was great to meet people I’d followed on Twitter, and to hear their experiences. We discussed our hopes and fears for the scheme and beyond, and had some interesting advice from the 2015 intake. Alumni from the scheme were invited along to talk about their careers since leaving the scheme, which showed us the variety of opportunities available once we leave!


Those moments are a snapshot into my month and as I said at the start, my month will be a unique experience on the scheme. Whilst every trainee has similar competencies, and must attend various educational components, we each take away distinctive moments, memories and knowledge from the scheme. In many ways you control the experiences you get and what you take away from them, so don’t be afraid to ask to do something, or to question things you don’t understand. For me, a normal day is one where I learn something new, take advantage of opportunities and work on projects that make patients’ experiences better. Exactly how I do that or what I learn, well that changes each day.

Fiona Woodhall

Fiona Woodhall

2016 intake

In 2016, I graduated from the University of St Andrews with a Masters in Chemistry. I applied to the scheme as I wanted a challenging and changing environment to develop my skills further whilst also helping others, whether patients, co-workers or anyone in between. During my degree I was involved in technical theatre and managing various events including charitable fundraisers. When I’m not event managing I love to travel or watch films with friends.

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