Fiona gives an insider's view of a management training scheme at the NHS...
My current job arose as a direct result of completing the NHS Graduate Management Scheme, which I started in September 2008, immediately after completing my degree in criminology and sociology at the University of Liverpool.
The NHS graduate scheme accepts applications from people with a variety of different backgrounds, so my subject of study was not a major factor in securing the job; it was more about the competencies and skills I displayed throughout the interview process alongside my level of degree qualification.
I spent my first eight weeks of full-time employment experiencing the many aspects of the NHS from observing surgical procedures to spending the day with the cleaners and porters in the hospital. This was invaluable to me as it allowed me to see things from a perspective that many people are not privileged enough to have.
I was then given a small department of the hospital to manage as part of a wider team. The NHS is quite a lot to get your head around at first and the good thing about the scheme was that we had a lot of 'foundation learning' events, which helped us get to grips with the basics as well as being placed in accredited organisations with the right support structures. We also had regular action learning sets, which gave us a safe environment amongst other trainees to discuss any problems we may be having at work.
For my second placement, I chose to work with another NHS hospital as I was interested in finding out about their move into a brand new building. This placement was used very differently by many and allowed us all to focus on areas of interest and develop our skills.
For my final placement, I worked in contracting at a primary care trust, which gave me a whole different view on the NHS. This was by far the best way for me to finish off my graduate scheme as it rounded off my experience.
The job I have now is a new post so over the last few months I have been developing my portfolio of work. I mainly focus on service improvement, business cases, project management and productivity and efficiency.
One of the best things about working in this sector is the staff that you get to work with. Most people seem to join the NHS because it has been what they have trained to do (doctors, nurses, etc… and managers!) or because they want to make a real difference to something close to everyone. The greatest thing about this is that it helps to keep everyone focused on the patient and you get a real sense of support and commitment from your colleagues.
Most people see the NHS as a place where doctors and nurses work and the same was true of me before I started my career. That is simply not true. The number of roles available in the NHS is incredibly diverse and there will be something to suit you. The NHS graduate scheme gives an incredibly privileged start to your career and it is well worth taking the time to apply.
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