Anything could happen...
How I learnt by asking, anything could happen.
As a student it is crucial to remember that this is YOUR time to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask to direct your learning to achieve your goals. Be proactive. It is important to keep knocking on those doors, anything could happen...
Whilst completing my integrated master’s in research and leadership (adult nursing) I had the opportunity to independently negotiate a learning experience to support my career development., I wanted to use this as a chance to have a bespoke placement across the Integrated Care System (ICS), an area we would not ordinarily be placed. I drafted emails to ICS members in both primary and secondary care to ask if I could shadow them or if they knew others who would be able to help. These emails stayed in my draft for a few weeks as felt I nervous about how they’d be received. Then I asked myself ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’, so I hit send. I had little expectation that these would result in a response, let alone an offer of placement but within a week, I had calls arranged to discuss how they could support my learning.
Over the next month I developed goals for my placement and intentionally diversified my experiences around many settings to gain a holistic oversight of ICS in practice. On the morning of my first day on placement I drove to a venue to attend a meeting within the Primary Care Network – very different to my previous placement settings. My timetable varied from in person meetings, restorative clinical supervision, education to teams calls and event designing. During one meeting I observed the chief nurse of an ICS in practice discussing current quality improvement projects. At the end of the meeting, I spoke to her and booked a meeting to arrange a week of work experience following her and her team.
During the placement with the chief nurse and her team my confidence and curiosity grew, and I was able to build a list of contacts. Within the span of my placement, I was contacted by a few members including the trust’s Head of Professional Standards and Leadership. As the first student in this capacity I was asked to help create material to support the further placement of students. I collated and shared information from pre-reading to useful abbreviations to help the success of future placements.
Over the course of these placements I gained experience across each tier of the ICS:
Systems with the chief nurse of the ICS;
Places with stakeholders in an integrated care partnership from NHS providers to local government and volunteer sectors;
Neighbourhood through shadowing the nurse lead in a Primary Care Network.
Across all areas I was able to observe transformational leadership at all levels with transparency and approachability paramount. I was able to appreciate the value of interprofessional working and how a greater unity of services works to improve patient outcomes.
I have embraced a growth mindset. When one door closed, I embraced these setbacks and continue to knock on the next. I believe student experience in system leadership is key to education and helps to provide fertile learning environments. I have been inspired by the many opportunities within these settings. It has encouraged me to explore the variety of ways in which I can direct my career in the future. Although it's important to acknowledge the current climate, it is an exciting time to be entering a profession where the opportunities continue to grow.