The Times They Are A-Changin’
08 Dec 2017
I’ve always had a bit of a strange relationship with change.
There is part of me which constantly craves change. I’m easily bored, and when I become frustrated or angry, I often look to take on a new challenge to distract me. However, equally, I’m absolutely terrified of change.
When I was younger, it was pretty obvious I didn’t adapt well to change. I think I cried for about three weeks straight when I had to leave my high school, which I’d attended for five years, for a different sixth form. I have (or at least I hope I have) gained slightly more control over my emotions since age 16, but this now means that my resistance to change manifests itself in my subconscious, so that I am often completely unaware of how or why I’m feeling a certain way.
I still recognise the signs – I become easily agitated, find it difficult to focus, and generally feel a bit worn down. These ‘symptoms’ (if you could call them that) tend to settle as I settle into a new situation.
I wrote my last blog in August, in which I contemplated ‘what was next’ for me on the NHS Graduate Scheme, and I now know that the answer is a lot of change. In short, in the last three months, I’ve changed jobs twice, and moved to a different city. On top of that, the organisation I’ve moved to is currently in a great period of change, as it continues to merge with other NHS organisations across the city, in an effort to create an integrated healthcare system. And, in a couple of months, I will need to start seriously thinking about applying for jobs, and the career I want to pursue when I leave the Graduate Scheme.
I suppose at this point it’s worth saying that the tone of this blog may sound pretty downbeat, when that’s not the case at all. I loved my time on flexi, I learnt a lot, worked with some really good people, and still had time to catch up with friends who I hadn’t seen since leaving university whilst in London. The flat I’ve moved into in Manchester is really nice, and I love the city, and whilst I’m still trying to get my head around working in surgery and hospital operations, I feel well supported by the team that I’m in. However, this still hasn’t stopped my ‘change symptoms’ from presenting themselves, and often I will come home and whinge to my flatmate that I am tired, and I’ll find it difficult to focus on one thing at a time (I’m currently thinking about when on earth I’m going to have a chance to do my Christmas shopping as I’m writing this blog…).
More recently, I’ve begun to think about my reaction to change in a more ‘organisational’ context. During my time on my flexi placement, I was exposed to the pressures faced by the Chief Executives of NHS organisations, and I now, no longer, feel surprised by the statement that the average length of service of an NHS Chief Executive is two years. However, I also think it’s difficult to navigate through a period of change without having the time to settle and adapt. I often find myself wondering what the NHS would look like if it had (to coin Theresa May’s somewhat ironic and comical phrase) ‘strong and stable leadership’. When I go through periods of change, I need ‘settling time’. The NHS is undergoing some serious changes, without any real ‘settling time’. Leaders come and go for various reasons, politics intervenes and curve balls like Brexit are thrown at us, NHS England and the Department of Health frequently readjust targets, priorities and expectations. Quite often, working in the NHS feels as though you are constantly cycling through change, with no time to stop, adapt or reflect on how the change has affected your organisation, your staff and yourself.
However, whilst change is always challenging, it’s also exciting. I still maintain that there is no better time than now to begin a career in the NHS. All the challenges that it faces have created a multitude of opportunities for people who are passionate about our public sector, and providing the best possible care to the patients we serve. Although Graduate Scheme applications for the 2018 intake have now closed, I wanted to reiterate what an excellent opportunity the Graduate Scheme provides to enter the NHS in the midst of a really exciting (if somewhat uncertain) period. As a leader, hopefully you’ll be able to make a lot of those uncertainties a bit more certain!
I’ve named this blog after one of my favourite songs by Bob Dylan, as a little reminder to myself that change happens and you have to just do your best to adapt to it (i.e. not crying for three weeks after you find out you have to move to a school which is a fifteen minute walk away from your old one..).
Thanks for reading!
On a quick side note, this will be my last blog before Christmas, so I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas & New Year. If you have any questions about applications/interviews/assessment centres for the scheme, please feel free to contact me on Twitter @bethany_carty or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org