All trainees on the scheme organise and undertake an 8 week (4 weeks for the policy and strategy specialism) flexi-placement. Flexi-placements can take place anywhere in the country; provided you can demonstrate to your programme manager and leadership academy that it will benefit your development (and that they’re willing and able to host you!). I’m currently completing the formal sign-off of my placement so now seems like a pretty good time to look back on the process.
Being told you can work wherever you like in the country for 8 weeks is a pretty exciting prospect. But that quickly became very daunting for me. As a long-time sufferer of FOMO (Fear-Of-Missing-Out) I was pretty worried I wouldn’t be inspired enough or know enough to be able to find the most interesting placement options.
I actually came up with a long list of places based on organisations I’ve come across in my work and conversations with other trainees and managers. There was also loads of other support to point me in the right direction. There’s a record of placements which past trainees have completed – lots of NHS organisations as well as outside companies including charities, car manufacturers and even an aquarium. Each year the leadership academy organises some placements centrally, options this year included Deloitte, KPMG and the Department of Health.
Once I started to form my list it was time to start testing the waters. I didn’t really have an existing relationship with any of the organisations I contacted – sometimes I’d been given their contact details by someone else and sometimes I’d found them online. So I was pretty surprised at the level of interest I received in return from my ‘cold-call style’ email strategy (by the third or fourth email I think I’d struck the perfect mix of grovelling and entitlement).
Some quick email and phone conversations helped determine what was going to be interesting for me going forward and form a shortlist. All of my shortlisted options were close by in Yorkshire (which is no surprise if you know me) so I was lucky enough to be able to have face to face meetings with each of them. These meetings helped to flesh out some of the details about the work I’d be able to get involved with whilst on placement, helpeding me to make my final decision.
The placement I’ve chosen is with the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network who have offered me an opportunity to be involved in the work they’re undertaking with the NHS Innovation Accelerator. Once I’ve presented details of the offer and how it will benefit my development to my programme manager and local leadership academy the placement will be formally signed-off and I can begin looking forward to my 8 weeks there starting in September!