Nilam Tai

Graduate Management Trainee, Yorkshire

Finance Scheme

I’ll never forget the look on the elderly lady’s face that day – how much it meant that she’d been treated with such dignity. Shadowing that community nurse showed me this finance scheme is part of something vital.

During my first month on the scheme I shadowed a community nurse visiting immobile patients in homes and nursing homes. I was touched by how she treated each patient with such care and dignity, whether it was changing a dressing for a young girl or checking pressure sores on an elderly patient. I knew then that I wanted to do everything possible to make it easier for the clinical staff to focus on providing excellent quality care.

I’ve always been proud of the NHS.

I’ve travelled quite a bit – to various countries that have different types of health system. And that’s always made me proud of our NHS. I always thought it was a noble thing to provide high-quality care to all patients equally – based on needs rather than the ability to pay.

The chance to have a direct impact on society? I applied straight away.

I studied Accountancy and Finance at university – and there are obviously a wide variety of places you can pursue a career in this discipline. But I’ve always wanted my work to have a direct impact on society. When I found that the NHS had this scheme, I applied pretty much straight away.

I work with people who do great work under formidable pressure.

You don’t really appreciate how big and complex this organisation is until you get here. Nor do you realise how good the people are. How brilliant a job both clinical and non-clinical staff do under pressure and with so much at stake.

Every day I feel like I’m learning from the best.

And it’s from your colleagues that you learn the most. Don’t get me wrong, the formal training here is outstanding. But I know how much of my development I owe to the people around me. There are professionals who have been here decades who pass on seemingly limitless knowledge and experience. And there are the newer colleagues who bring ideas and perspectives from other sectors to add to the mix.

I’ve had brilliant support and built lasting friendships.

I can’t speak highly enough of my support network. It’s been fantastic. The other trainees have been great to work with and though naturally we’re all quite competitive in nature, we’ve built some lasting friendships and work really well as a group with honesty and respect. On top of that, I benefit from the support of very senior staff, both inside and outside of my organisation. Ultimately, everyone I come across in the NHS is working towards the same goal: providing the highest quality care.

The scheme’s really comprehensive but the learning doesn’t stop there.

The Finance scheme is 30 months long and very comprehensive. As well as studying towards CIMA, the professional finance qualification, I have also completed a Leading in Healthcare PGCert in conjunction with The Open University. In addition I’ve finished an Experiential Learning course. This has been pivotal in helping me understand myself, my preferences and how I work with other people.

If you’re thinking of applying…

If you’re thinking about applying, make sure your values match those of the NHS. The scheme is entirely values driven and you have to be able to relate to the National Health Service and how it operates to succeed.

Talk to trainees, both current and past. There is a huge network of alumni from the scheme and I’m yet to visit an NHS organisation which doesn’t employ any ex-trainees.

While the scheme is quite structured, it is unique in that each trainee has a completely different experience based on their work placements. This can often be challenging and it’s extremely important that you set up a good support network both formally through mentors and with managers, and also informally with other trainees.