15 months as a Graduate Associate Consultant
Starting at the Transformation Unit (TU)
I joined the TU in September 2021 in our Graduate Role. Prior to joining, I completed an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology and Early Childhood at Liverpool Hope University. I then went on to study for a Masters of Science in the Psychology of Coercive Control at The University of Salford. Through my Masters studies, I was provided the opportunity to shadow the National Team of Safeguarding NHS England and Improvement, where my enthusiasm to work in the NHS began.
What attracted me to the TU?
Following my opportunity to shadow the National Team of Safeguarding NHS England and Improvement, I was eager to step into a space where I could support working on both large scale and small scale projects within the NHS that would support the development of improving care for patients and outcomes for communities. I knew that the TU could offer me this, and I was excited as soon as I saw they had a graduate role.
Once I started to apply for the TU, I noticed that their values aligned with my own. I have always been keen on working in an organisation where the values reflect my own. The value that stood out to me the most was that of ‘we are people focused’, where I knew that both personal and professional development would be advocated for.
Initial training and development/onboarding at the TU
Upon joining the TU, I underwent induction and commenced 6 weeks of training, both internally and externally delivered. As part of my internal training and development, I was provided with a range of TU sessions to develop my understanding of the NHS and the different skills and expertise in transformation. These sessions included the links between primary care and secondary care, project management skills, and how to understand data within the NHS.
Externally, I completed PRINCE2 training foundation and practitioner where I developed an understanding of the different processes and practices involved in effective project management. I was also able to independently participate in NHS Leadership Academy Edward Jenner programme to further develop my understanding of what a leader is, and how this is applied within the NHS. I also completed my Better Business Case training which supported my understanding and the development of how important business cases are within the NHS. These training opportunities not only developed my understanding of the NHS further, but also provided me with additional skills when beginning to work on projects.
After my initial 6 weeks of both internal and external training, I began working on my first project. This project was focused on supporting a Primary Care Network in Cheshire and Merseyside, where my responsibilities included; action and risk log management, minute taking, facilitation of meetings and preparation, and enabling the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service specification through undertaking qualitative analysis on housebound patients. Although the realm of this project was vast, the skills I developed in my first few weeks at the TU quickly came in useful!
Alongside my external client facing work, I also took on some internal responsibilities, which included working with our Business Development team on different social media posts to raise the profile of the TU externally. This was a great opportunity for me in the first few weeks here at the TU as I was able to work with a number of different people beyond my project work and to understand the different internal responsibilities in the team.
First 6 months on projects
Further into my graduate role, I began working on a project focusing on producing a strategy for an Endoscopy service within a hospital trust. My role on this project consisted of liaising with stakeholders from each hospital to understand the current service, and the ideal future arrangements. I then supported the work of developing a model of care, a workforce strategy and a finance and estates strategy. Throughout this project, I attended a number of different meetings including a monthly steering group with all stakeholders, where I produced the deliverables, such as presentations and documents.
In addition to my external projects, I began working on the TU annual report. As I was still fairly new to the team, working on the annual report was a brilliant opportunity to find out what our strategy for the previous year and upcoming year was, and how each team member has a part to play. My role on this project consisted of pulling together a number of case studies and examples of deliverables we had produced and projects we had worked on in the previous year. I also had the opportunity to format the report and create a complete document for finalizing, which really helped me develop my skills on canva!
Alongside both internal and external project work, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and begin chairing different meetings internally to set me up to chairing them with clients and stakeholders. I first chaired my virtual internal team check in meeting, and although it was a more informal meeting, I felt like I had achieved something substantial! Later in the year, I wanted to step up the pressure and chair my first face-to-face team meeting. Chairing a face-to-face meeting consisted of opening up the meeting, ensuring that the meeting ran to the times of the agenda, and closing the meeting with celebrating all the hard work our team has done in the past month. This proved to be something I really enjoyed, and I’m excited to have the opportunity again at a later date!
Coming to the end of the Graduate Role
The TU’s Graduate Transformation Consultant role is designed to provide graduates with the skills and experience that enables us to move into a permanent Associate Transformation Consultant role. As I approached the end of the graduate phase of my role, I was provided the opportunity to work on two new projects. I started the last 6 months of my role working with two hospital trusts on how to separate and merge two hospitals for three different services – gastroenterology, vascular and ENT. My role on this project was to understand the current service, and to work with key stakeholders on how we can both separate and merge the services, including the workforce. This was a complex and challenging project, but really aided my understanding of how two trusts can work together to provide a brilliant service for patients.
My second project at this time was support for development of a Clinical and Care Professional Leadership framework. This was very different to the previous projects I had worked on, and required me to work with a completely new project team and clients. My role on this project was to support the co-production of the Clinical and Care Professional Leadership Framework. I also had the opportunity to present to senior key stakeholders on what a clinical assembly was and how it would add value into the framework. Having developed these skills through the other projects, I felt confident and capable in holding these stakeholder relationships
Throughout my time in the graduate role, I have developed an array of experience in various areas and on various projects. The training and development opportunities I have received over the course of the graduate role have put me in a steady position to kickstart my career in consultancy and in the NHS. Not only have I developed personally and professionally, but I have also made an impact in the areas of work I have been in. I look forward to more opportunities to develop in the future and progress further.