365 Days in the NHS

So today is my 365th day working in the NHS. Before I started my journey I was full of grand ideas about the impact I was going to have and how I was going to change the world.

People talk about the first 100 days but I’ve spent the last couple of days reflecting on my first 365 days.

Here are some of my thoughts, observations and learning points (in no particular order).

  • It’s a culture shock. With no NHS experience I so wasn’t prepared – I came from a world where dual screens, paperless working and using my own device to access work emails was standard.
  • I wouldn’t have survived without the amazing HR Team in our little office. The support, advice, care and compassion we all show eachother is amazing to experience. #DreamTeam.
  • There are times you want to give up.
  • There are times you want to (and sometimes will) cry.
  • There are times when you will feel like you have conquered the world.
  • There are some amazing people and I am privileged to work with many of them.
  • When needed people don’t think twice about rolling their sleeves up to help in any way they can.
  • It’s frustrating as hell. The highs are really high but the lows…..they can be so so low.
  • It’s REALLY demanding. I mean I thought I was pushed and stretched before but now I know there is another level.
  • Where do I start? Is a regular thought.
  • The learning curve is massive.
  • Resilience is essential.
  • Mental toughness helps too.
  • I have learned more HR stuff not just NHS stuff.
  • You commit to the cause – it’s not just a job.
  • It’s exhausting.
  • Get used to re-prioritising…..its an important skill used frequently.
  • You are cared for and looked after and people are analysing your health…..even when you are in meetings that are not about you!

One definite take away for me is that we can’t do this alone – by that I don’t just mean me on my own but the NHS can’t do it alone. We need all the help we can get from partners in different sectors helping us to join the dots.

Despite feeling at times like I’ve been put through the ringer I am still here and I will keep going.

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Are we sending out the right message to our children?

I have a 4 year old daughter and she started primary school last September. She is a bright child and loves to learn.

Within the class they have 2 superstars each week. The superstars get to take home one of the class teddies and they have a diary to complete. Whilst in school the superstars sit on two red chairs whilst the other children sit on the carpet. My little girl has asked every week “when will it be my turn mummy?”. Just before half term I got a text from school telling me that she was to be superstar, to see her little face when her name was called in assembly was amazing….but the shine started to fade for her after a couple of days at school.

After much discussion and questioning it turns out she didn’t like sitting on the red chairs….The reasons upset me. She was being left out by her friends, they were telling her she couldn’t play with them because she didn’t sit with them….. when I asked around it became clear that she wasn’t the only one to experience this which got me wondering what the rationale was of sitting two students on chairs looking down on the rest of the class who are sat on the floor? We invest so much on educating our children about equality yet, possibly without thinking wider than the reward element, someone took the decision to place two children on chairs looking down on their classmates.

In the end I told my little girl to sit on the floor if that’s where she was happiest because being superstar was enough without the chair….she seemed to take comfort in that and skipped out of school the following day proudly telling me she had told her teacher she was happier sitting on the floor with the rest of her class mates.

It’s funny how such small things can have such a big impact and this experience has made me think about some of the subliminal messages our children get from us. I want my daughter to grow up confident and happy, I want her to be thoughtful and aware of the needs of herself as well as others around her but most of all I want her to be herself and to do what she feels is right and not follow blindly. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want her to be nightmare rebel! I want her to behave but I also want her to question things she isn’t sure about so that she can understand things she can’t change and influence things where she can. I suppose this post comes at an apt time with so much in the media about International Women’s Day but I believe that even if I had been writing this about my son in 4 years time when he starts school my thoughts would be the same.

I was a follower as a child, always worried about what others thought of me. I am no longer someone who follows blindly but I know that the whole worrying about what other people thing is so ingrained now that I’m not sure I can change it. It’s a very limiting trait to have and I don’t want my children to grow up with it.

I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here, my intention for this post was to muse about the things we teach our children! Reflecting as I write I firmly believe we need to look beyond the simple mechanism of rewarding our children and look deeper at the messages that our actions give out…..quite a deep thought that arose for me from something as simple as superstar, a teddy and a chair.