Sarah Green (3rd-year Clinical Engineering STP, Medical Physics/Clinical Engineering Trainee Representative)
As I’m sure past and present trainees will agree that progression through the STP scheme is not without its difficulties. With 20+ specialisms to cater for, it’s challenging for the NSHCS to balance standardisation and flexibility in the STP design; to ensure quality and satisfy the unique requirements of each specialism. Add into the mix different hospitals, universities, plus the unique personal circumstances of every trainee (and training officer) and you have a range of perceptions and expectations of the work required to complete the training scheme.
Given this, it is inevitable trainees will encounter training issues that were unforeseen by the National School on the scheme’s inception. Consequently, trainees need a way of raising these issues with the NSHCS – enter the trainee representatives! Representatives aim to provide a link between the School and healthcare science trainees, by gathering trainee feedback and raising it at two NSHCS meetings.
The Trainee Representative Group (TRG) meeting runs three times a year and is attended by regional trainee network representatives, specialism trainee representatives and NSHCS representatives. Specialism trainee representatives also sit on their relevant Themed Board (Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Physiological Sciences), which also runs tri-annually a couple of weeks after TRG meetings. Themed Board meetings bring together trainees and representatives from employers, universities, professional bodies to focus on all aspects of training for trainees in that theme.
Trainee representatives contribute to the development of School policies and resources, such as the Trainee Support Strategy and interview questions for the STP. This ensures trainees have a voice within the School and are able to contribute to the continuing improvement of the scheme. As well as connecting trainees with the NSHCS, the trainee representatives aim to discuss wider training challenges and keep trainees informed on how these are progressing. For example, items such as trainee budgets, expectations of in-service staff, issues with OneFile and mental health support for trainees have been discussed at recent TRG meetings. This allows representatives to feedback to trainees.
The TRG is also a brilliant resource through which trainees can seek advice nationally on the issues important to them. This provides a level of pastoral care that trainees might not be receiving from their local institution or advice that might not be available from their local trainee network. If you’re struggling with your training, get in touch with your regional or specialism trainee representative!
Why do I think trainee representatives are important and what have I learnt?
If you were to ask me why I became a trainee representative, it was because I felt there were areas of the STP that could be improved. If you were to ask me what I’ve gained from being a trainee representative, I’m not sure where to start(!).
I’ve been able to talk to various stakeholders of the STP and get a broader understanding of the vast range of people involved in delivering the scheme. It’s very easy to think of the NSHCS as some separate entity that just sets competencies and undertakes OSFAs, but much like how for us as NHS employees “the patient is at the heart of everything we do,” for the School I think “the trainee is at the heart of everything they do.”
I’ve found speaking at the Physical Sciences Themed Board (and as a student representative on my university’s Staff-Student liaison committee) has improved my ability to communicate constructively and concisely. I think there is a real danger that a trainee’s 5 minutes of fame on a Themed Board can turn into a moan-fest. Of course, negative feedback is necessary to highlight problems to those who need to be informed, but I’ve found it’s better received when presented alongside suggestions for improvement.
I am so proud to be a trainee representative and it is a privilege to represent my colleagues and voice their concerns. It’s truly inspiring to meet other trainee representatives who are passionate about healthcare science and improving the STP; with them, I’m confident the future of healthcare science is in safe hands.
Are you a 1st/2nd year STP Trainee and like the sound of being a Trainee Representative? The NSHCS is looking to recruit new Themed Board Trainee Representatives for all three areas, with an application deadline of 5 pm 30th April 2019. You should have received an email from NSHCS regarding this opportunity, but if not get in contact with them via email@example.com.