The Role of Regional Trainee Networks

Haroon Chughtai (3rd year Clinical Bioinformatics – Physical Sciences STP, Clinical Bioinformatics – Physical Sciences & Health Informatics Trainee Representative, Co-Chair London Healthcare Science Trainee Network)

We heard earlier from Sarah Green about the role of trainee representatives in the STP, and how these included those from specialisms as well as regional networks. Whilst it is very true that a lot of the work of the regional trainee networks involves representation at local and national levels, there is also a lot more to it.

As the end of my training hurtles relentlessly towards me, I’m taking a moment away from MSc project and competencies to reflect on why I think that regional trainee networks are vital, and why every trainee should be involved with them in some way.

What Do Trainee Networks Do?

Looking at the NSHCS’ regional trainee network page, there are 13 trainee networks listed. What we do as trainee networks, is as diverse as the trainees that organize and lead them.

Acting as a conduit for local trainee concerns to reach regional stakeholders, as well as for national matters to reach the School is definitely a major component. Each trainee network sends a representative to the NSHCS’ Trainee Representative Group where they coordinate with others on feedback. Practically this may involve sending out surveys, asking trainees for feedback, and communicating relevant information back. Sarah’s already done a great job explaining this aspect here.

However, no less important is the trainee network’s role in bringing together individuals to form a supportive community. From the descriptions of each of the networks, this seems pretty common across all of us. Whilst meeting other trainees may seem unimportant to those fortunate to have a large specialism presence in their region or an active hospital network, for those in smaller specialisms or more niche departments, this community can be a great aid (and I’d argue important to expand your knowledge of Healthcare Science and the wider NHS).

The single defining goal across all the trainee networks is to enrich the trainee experience through new opportunities that support and go beyond the core requirements. Many trainee networks, like the LondonHCSTN, achieve these aims through a combination of digital communications, as well as social and professional events.

For example, in my region, we’ve hosted Welcome Events for incoming cohorts, Winter Events that cover professional practice competencies, and OSFA Workshops that give 3rd years additional practice for those dreaded exams. And that’s not to mention the various events of a purely social nature. All this is to help trainees feel a part of a community and to expand the opportunities available to them!

Why Should You Get Involved?

Echoing Sarah’s sentiments, I joined the London Healthcare Science Trainee Network for similar reasons to why she became a Specialism Representative. There were aspects of the trainee experience that I wanted to improve, and the network gave me a platform to do so, as well as a way to meet trainees across the breadth of our profession’s specialisms.

My time involved with the LondonHCSTN has given me opportunities and experiences that I would not have expected during my training. I’ve gained experience in leadership, remote working, event organisation, website development, branding, project management and so much more. I’ve met some of the most driven trainees I know through network activities and made friends that I never would have otherwise.

I have had the chance to be involved with senior healthcare science colleagues across London, helping me develop my knowledge of the drivers for our roles. This knowledge has helped me so much with my day job; by making me informed of NHS priorities and raising my confidence in engaging with senior staff.

Some of my favourite parts of being involved with the trainee network have been the stress of organising events turn into the adrenaline of running them, and then finally into the exhilaration of success.

Most importantly, I feel like I’m part of making a difference to the trainee experience in my region, and ensuring that our voice is heard.

Joining your regional trainee network is a great way to develop yourself in so many ways, and contribute to your colleagues and your own experience. The time you put in is very much up to you, but you’re sure to get something out of it – even if it is only meeting some wonderful people and signing off a few of those lovely professional practice competencies!

Every trainee network recruits differently, so contact yours using the details on the NSHCS website to see how they do it.

Author: Haroon

Trainee Clinical Informatician in London, co-chair of the London Healthcare Science Trainee Network. Interested in raising the profile of NHS scientists, digital health, and health informatics.

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