Hello, my name is Natasha and I am a Clinical Bioinformatician working in London. Before being asked to write this post, I never really paused to think about my journey as a trainee to a training officer. It is something that was offered to me a year after completing my STP. I was asked if I would like to take over duties as a training officer. Honestly speaking, I didn’t fully understand the responsibilities before I said yes, but I knew I enjoyed training and wanted to do more of it. Luckily, I have a very supportive team who are always willing to help me out, hence the transition did not feel as overwhelming.
The benefits of having done the STP myself
I truly don’t think there is a way better way to train a trainer than actually going through the STP yourself. I found that I was able to relate to my trainees experiences and understand the requirements from the training much better. Having done the assessments and competencies I am able to draw from my experiences. There were times I felt like an impostor; training and guiding others when I’m still relatively new to the field. What I’ve learnt is that that feeling never fully goes away, I’ve also accepted the fact that I won’t have answers to everything but I’m fortunate enough to have a good team I can fall back on.
I found that having done the STP, I was already familiar with all the processes, rotations and requirements for the training. One of the difficult parts was changing my mindset as a trainee to a training officer. As a trainee we can be overly focused on training plans and competencies, however as a training officer the mindset changes to ensuring we provide tasks and projects to help the trainee develop key skills which will be essential once they are fully registered. Yes, competencies and assessments are an important aspect of the programme, however I think by doing service work these things are automatically fulfilled. I am still mindful of the curriculum and try to identify suitable projects which will satisfy competencies. My focus is on helping my trainees develop the essential skills they will need to practice safely. Different methods work for different people, but I’ve found this approach works best for our team.
Learning from my experiences as a trainee
As a trainee there were occasions where I felt I could’ve been supported better or that my competencies could’ve been reviewed sooner. When I started as a training officer I was determined not to do the same. I made sure I had weekly meetings with my trainees to ensure the training was going well and just to touch base. I allocated time in my calendar every week to check OneFile and review competencies. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans go awry. As the number of trainees started to increase, my OneFile tasks also began to increase. I have the constant guilt of not providing feedback to competencies sooner – because I can empathise with the trainees, I understand the satisfaction of getting competencies signed off. The OneFile guilt is always looming over my head and now I can relate to how my training officer probably felt! It will always be a struggle to balance patient work and trainees and I still haven’t managed to strike a balance just yet.
It is definitely worth it
I want to finish up by saying that supporting the training of an STP is extremely fulfilling. Personally, I believe having a trainer who has gone through the STP is slightly advantageous as they will be aware about the major concepts of the programme. Eventually, most trainees will contribute to some aspect of STP training during their careers and like me, will be able to finally relate to their training officer. I enjoy the training aspect of the role, having discussions, helping individuals develop skills and find it very rewarding. The transition from a trainee to training officer would definitely not have been as smooth if it weren’t for my encouraging and supportive team, especially my trainees who have been very understanding as I settle into this role.