What a year on the grad scheme has taught me
As I’m sure you’ll have gathered from the blogs of my fellow graduates, many of the 2017 intake are now at our flexi-placement organisations and adjusting to life in a new office or environment with new demands and new people. I’ve been thinking back to this time last year: reflecting on how I felt then compared to now has made me realise just how much I’ve learnt and developed over the past 12 months, and I’d like to share this as a friendly wave from one year into the scheme…
There’s a lot of rhetoric around how the grad scheme is fast-paced, how you are always learning, how there will be opportunities flying at you from every angle and you have to make the most of them. All of this is true. What I have realised however, and it’s got to be the biggest cliché in the book, is that actually a huge amount of learning happens in day-to-day life on the scheme that just flies under the radar. I mean this as a reassurance; through grabbing opportunities to speak to anyone and everyone in my first placement, I learnt a huge amount about the corporate structure of a Foundation Trust, and being allowed to shadow clinicians gave me the opportunity to appreciate the vast amount of varied work that goes on all over the community healthcare landscape. I also knew I was learning on experiential, through EGA assignments and UCL coursework. What I didn’t register however, was what was happening without me even noticing it.
Just through being on the scheme, working in a role with a high level of autonomy and in a specialism I was new to, even the days when I was sat in the office worrying that I maybe wasn’t getting ‘out there’ enough or achieving as much as some of my peers were actually teaching me some very valuable lessons – lessons that I didn’t realise I had learnt until I started flexi. Just being on the scheme places you in an environment where you have to learn to be adaptable, to be willing to take on new and unfamiliar tasks, and approach working life with a ‘can-do’ attitude. As a result of constantly meeting new faces and being placed in unfamiliar situations, you’ll learn to quickly build rapport with new people – and if you’ve had to move for the scheme then you’ll be able to tick off the new job, new home, new people triple, which is no mean feat in itself! However, for all the fast-paced learning and the huge amount of change the grad scheme can mean, this year has really shown me the power of finding that moment of ‘still’ in the midst of it all and taking the time to reflect. There are few moments on the grad scheme that don’t provide a learning opportunity, even if it might not feel like it at the time.
I think what I’m trying to say is: yes, be curious, reach for those opportunities and experiences you want, and do everything you can to make your placement what you want it to be – but also, on those days where it maybe feels like everything has gone wrong, or you aren’t achieving what you think you should be, don’t forget that there is a lot to be said for absorbing and reflecting on the environment that you are in, and that by doing so you’ll be learning things that no other experience could teach you.