I have just gone back through my calendar and come to the shocking realisation that it has already been 7 weeks since starting the scheme! In all honesty, I still feel very new. Yet, this feeling might also be due to the fact that, as the new graduates, we have been on our 4- week orientation period.
Because I’m placed at a CSU for my strategic placement, rather than an operational one at a provider like most other graduates, my orientation period has been slightly different. It involved being based at a different hospital pretty much every day – and what an experience it has been!
I spent a number of days at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital shadowing individuals holding a range of positions including Hospital Director, Patient Flow Manager, Paediatric Therapist, and Porter. As expected, there was an extravagant amount of insight to be gained from shadowing all of these individuals. In fact, despite allocating two whole days to shadow the Hospital Director and Patient Flow manager, these days felt like mini taster sessions, leaving me hungry for more.
I was also able to spend a lot of time in the A&E departments of 3 different hospitals. During these days, despite not doing anything other than simply watching the clinical and non-clinical staff saving lives (simply put), these were the days I felt the most drained as I headed home. Yet, it was an incredible eye opener being able to see the collaboration and work that goes in, behind the scenes, when trying to meet national targets, such as the 4-hour A&E target.
Finally, a few of the most intriguing orientation days were those I spent in theatres watching surgeries from tumour removals to hip replacements. When I mentioned these specific orientation days to people, the most common response (following up from ‘that’s really cool!’ and ‘did you not get queasy?’) was, ‘but what learning did you actually gain from that?’ And to be honest, the answer is, ‘Probably not as much as I did from shadowing a General Manager at St Mary’s Hospital.’ But, there still was a lot to gain. First of all, if I do go into hospital management in the future, I believe that it is still very critical to know what happens in the theatre room. After all, it is still a part of the patient flow. On top of that, I was lucky enough to shadow surgeons who gave me their time to explain the main bottlenecks and issues that they face on a regular basis, from delays in procurement of key medical equipment to last minute additions to the number of surgeries planned for the day.
All in all, I now know so much more about the NHS, hospitals, and patient pathways than I did just over a month ago. I could not have gained all this information and insight, through any sort of reading or through simply talking to the individuals I was actually able to shadow for several hours. Yet, I am glad that this period is over now and I can get on with my role for the next year at a Commissioning Support Unit, where I am working now as a Healthcare Consultant. Already, I have started to work on a very stimulating project with so many inspiring people all around me. I am very excited to tell you more about it in my next post!