Policy & Strategy

Post- scheme reflections

Posted by Emma Sterling, 12 Feb 2019

My last GMTS blog entry was almost two years ago. I’d say that is a testament to how engrossed I was in my second-year placements, studies, essays and eventually job hunting. I’ve since left the scheme and achieved a full-time post in NHS England’s Strategy Group. I’ve worked on a number of challenging projects including project management for the National Test Beds programme and policy work in the EU Transition Team.

Reflecting on my time as a trainee, I’m fortunate to have lots of highlights, lessons and good stories that I will take with me throughout my career. Placement one in the National Cancer Programme was a steep learning curve. I was taught how to put together parliamentary briefings and implement policy recommendations. It was also my first office based job so getting used to the culture and the acronyms was a trying yet brilliant development opportunity.

I then joined the Planning Team at the Royal Free London.. I worked to shape the hospital group goals and priorities, conducted an audit of the head and neck cancer patient pathway and sourced numerous shadowing opportunities that brought me closer to operational work (most memorably shadowing the Grenfell Health Response). One of the most valuable take-aways from this placement was access to the vast Planning Team network that broadened my understanding of different players in our health system; from think tanks, to consultancy to care in the community.

It was at the Royal Free that I was introduced to my Flexi-Placement hosts. I spent six weeks at KPMG in the Universal Health Coverage team and had a blast. I got insight into international health thought leadership and strategy. This was not only interesting, but enabled me to critically reflect on the way we approach thought leadership in the NHS. I gained technical competence, research skills and a new confidence that I brought back to NHS England.

My final placement was in the Strategy Group on the Test Beds programme. By this point in the scheme, I’d found my feet and was feeling much more capable than the trainee that walked into NHS England 14 months prior. Being the final placement, there was a lot to juggle:  attend lectures for the Health Policy PGDip, go to scheme Experiential Learning days, fulfil remaining competencies and eventually secure a post scheme role and get to grips with a new programme. I was supported so well in this placement to achieve this. My team were understanding of my commitments, allowing study leave when requested and justified.

When it came time to apply for post scheme roles, my line manager and programme manager dedicated time to help with applications and interview preparations. My immediate team ensured my wellbeing was in check. I enjoyed the topic of spreading digital innovation in the NHS that the Test Beds programme offered and learned a lot about what the future for healthcare could hold. This, the values and ethos of the Strategy Group was what motivated me to apply for a permanent role within the team and thankfully, secure my current role.

NHS GMTS Policy & Strategy was an intense period of growth and development, requiring resourcefulness and resilience. It was fantastic. For someone interested in building the skills to contribute to national programmes, innovation and policy to better patient care in the NHS, I couldn’t advocate for a better experience

Emma Sterling

Emma Sterling

2017 intake

Hi everyone! My name is Emma and I’m part of the NHS GMTS 2016 intake on the new Policy and Strategy stream. I graduated from the University of Leicester with a BSc in Medical Genetics in 2015 and applied for the scheme that same year. The NHS GMTS was the only management graduate scheme I applied for. I knew wanted to make a positive impact on the healthcare system in a world class organisation that shared my core values and utilise some of my biomedical knowledge so the NHS was an obvious first choice. In my ‘year out’ before the scheme I’ve held a temporary post back at my university in pedagogic research and worked with early years children. Outside of work I enjoy an active lifestyle, yoga, art and am a self confessed foodie!

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