Policy & Strategy

B for Beginnings

Posted by Laura Schubert, 21 Dec 2017

Starting the graduate scheme in September involved a lot of new beginnings for me. Here is a snapshot of some of the beginnings I have experienced over the last few months:

A new city

In August I moved to Leeds. I had initially hoped to be placed in London, but was offered a place on the scheme in Leeds (Yorkshire and Humber region). I grew up in the South West, and studied in Cambridge so venturing North seemed exciting. I found a house-share in Leeds on spareroom.com, and have been very lucky to live with 4 wonderful women, which is a nice change from living in halls. For me it is good to live with others, and it has given me opportunities for friendship in a new city from day one…

My first job

I graduated from university in June 2017, and this is my first full-time, ‘permanent’ job. I like the 9-5 rhythm in comparison to working as a student, but I especially appreciate the flexible working at my first placement, enabling an 8-4 or 9:30-5:30 work day, and even occasional days working from home. Before the first day of work I went around charity shops in Leeds to stock my wardrobe with work-appropriate (smart-casual) clothing. At university I enjoyed rocking up to lectures in my bright red, striped, gap-year trousers, and feared feeling restricted by having to wear ‘work’ clothes. Now, 4 months in, I enjoy feeling ‘smart’ and have also found I can still personalise my outfit and make it comfortable.

Before starting, I read some of those books titled ‘success in your first job’ and ‘impact in week 1’; I wanted to be prepared. While this was useful to calm my nerves, I soon realised I can only learn one step at a time by applying the tips from the book. While the imposter syndrome is real, I have realised there will always be lots to learn and having the support of colleagues and other trainees has given me lots of opportunities to ask silly questions…

An NHS novice

Like many other trainees, I am new to the NHS and healthcare in general. The orientation period, 20 days at the beginning of the scheme, gave me the opportunity to see the NHS at work including shadowing commissioners and professionals in elective care, acute mental health care, the ambulance and hospice service, and in social care. Some things surprised me (I learnt about Electro Convulsive Therapy for psychosis), some things angered me (the chaos of hospital/NHS IT systems and their dysfunction), and other things I enjoyed (I took part in a hospice day-therapy session and practiced controlling anxiety trough breathing). I realised while spending time in clinical areas that management seems the right path for me as I prefer to be in an office than on the front line. My initiation into the NHS involved dealing with a large amount of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), but I think I am about half way there now. Most of all in the NHS, it was amazing to experience personally that for everyone I met, they wanted the best for patients…

My first placement

As I am on the policy and strategy specialism, my first 6 month placement is in NHS England, based in Quarry House (Leeds). I am a member of the Choice team, which lies within the Personalised Care Group, which promotes giving more control to patients and the delivery of more personalised care across the country. In my team, and I think across NHS England, ‘matrix’ working is encouraged and even necessary.  Essentially, while I have my own project, I rely on the input and support of individuals from other teams and I also support other teams’ projects. This took me a while to get used to, and ‘networking’, essentially building relationships and getting to know others and their work, is essential for this style of work to be effective…

A new type of learning – the EGA

During the first year of the graduate scheme, all trainees study towards a Post Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Leadership, and the course is called Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (EGA). So far the course has been quite different to both school and university studying: the teaching is mostly on a virtual campus (online learning), and is supported by full day teaching sessions with the other trainees. The focus is on your leadership practice, which means that all the learning is geared towards me trying things out at work and becoming more self-aware. Some of the assignments are essay questions, while mostly they are work-based, which means I have to apply my learning. These assignments and the whole course actually, require me to reflect on what I have learnt and how I feel about myself, my leadership and my learning. Honestly, this ‘reflection’ seemed arbitrary and tedious at first, but now I have got into the swing of it, and even have a red ‘reflection journal’ to track how I develop over the scheme…

In my next blog post you can read more about the work of my team in NHS England, and the title will be C for Choice and Control.

Laura Schubert

Laura Schubert

2017 intake

I joined the scheme straight after graduating from the University of Cambridge, having studied Biological Anthropology. I applied to the NHS Graduate Scheme because I wanted to serve other people through my work. Before applying, a summer charity internship, other regular volunteer work and being the captain for my university water polo team showed me that leading projects and managing people is something that I might enjoy doing in my career.

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