Nothing I say will quite prepare you for your orientation period (20 days shadowing different departments of your trust). My experiences spanned from making cups of tea for new mothers to shadowing a junior doctor in A&E on Saturday night. I became a sponge for new information. The whole process was invaluable. In this post I’m going to be completely honest about my orientation and tell you about some of the ups and downs I experienced. Hopefully I will convince you that the even the toughest times can provide the most valuable learning experiences.
Let’s start with ups. I visited the gynae ward at Burnley Hospital and honestly it was amazing. They have thought of every single detail to make the women feel comfortable and cared for. From providing a bereavement room for mourning parents, to offering discrete access for the vulnerable women attending the abortion service. The matron, Helen even told me that I was welcome to come for a cup of tea and a chat if I ever needed a break because they are “all for supporting women”. This department was truly inspiring and it exemplified what compassionate leadership is all about: making patients and staff feel safe and taken care of.
While most of my days were similar to my time on the gynae ward, I did have my struggles. Working in an acute medical environment you cannot avoid trauma. Nothing illustrates this better than my time with the NW Ambulance Service. I was an observer for the day. The first call we received was a cardiac arrest. I sat in the back while we raced to the scene and was told that I might have to do compressions. When we got there the man was declared dead. This was massive for me. I had never seen a dead body before. We had to wait there, in the room with the body, for an hour before the police arrived. It was the longest hour of my life. When I got home I realised that this, one of the most traumatic things I have ever experienced, was the paramedic’s every day. I felt truly humbled by their dedication to the public, but that didn’t stop me from feeling awful about what I had seen.
That’s the thing, you can’t control what you are going to see but you can guarantee that everything you experience will make you stronger as a person and that will ultimately make you a better leader in the future. You have to have resilient on this scheme and nothing could prepare you for the years ahead better than the whirlwind that is orientation.