Decisions, Dilemmas and Diversion

It has been a while since I wrote my last post. I have been very busy since starting my new job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and I have also continued to  work at West Bromwich Albion FC and Harborne Physio at Barefoot Birmingham. So I have barely had time to sit down never mind write my blog. As you may be aware from my last post my first rotation has been critical care rehab which has been incredible. I have been able to see some of the long term rehab patients who are ventilated and non-ventilated and I am getting to see some of the post operative patients which all will stand me in good stead when I come to complete my respiratory competencies. It has been great to get stuck back into respiratory as I only had the one placement in my second year and everyday my confidence is building as the team I am working with is great!! We do a lot of doubles together, teaching sessions and in service training.

Now this all sounds all well and good but the last couple of weeks have been pretty stressful for me, a couple of weeks into my job at the QE I got an email through from a manager at Derby Hospitals. As you may know from previous posts I had been for an interview there but was unsuccessful (which I was disappointed with as I had done my best on the day). The email read along the lines of:

Dear Lucy

I hope you are well.

We have had some extra movement in the trust and I would like to offer you a permanent contract at Derby Hospitals…..

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At this point I read the email about 50 times before I made sense of it! Due to my interview being within 3 months they could recruit me straight away! Of course at this point I accepted but was wary that a permanent post was coming up at the QE so I was still hopeful to remain in trust so I attended the interview to give myself options.

I turned up at the QE interview consciously fine, I went in sat the written paper which asked questions on Chronic non-specific lower back pain and what the management would be? Prioritisation of a list of patients, a respiratory patient assessment, treatment with relation to the on call rota and another question which I can’t remember. I came back to sit down after the paper feeling relatively calm and waited to be seen for the individual interview…. I was being interviewed by the head of therapies and a band 7. I went in and the first few questions were absolutely fine and then it hit me….. My nerves suddenly took over me and I couldn’t physically speak the further questions weren’t particularly ambiguous and if you had asked me later that day I could have gone on for hours but instead I felt like I was outside my body looking in and couldn’t do anything to help myself…. So unfortunately I can’t recall any of the questions from that interview and you can guess I didn’t get the permanent contract…. however they were very understanding of how much the job meant to me on the day and did extend my contract if I wanted.

Now for most people this would be a simple decision to take the permanent contract, but for me not so much. I really had to sit down and right the pros and cons of each hospital and location which did keep me awake most of the night. In the end I chose the permanent contract although I have settled into the QE and I love the hospital I had to be selfish in thinking about my further development…. so I opted for continuity. So as you can imagine I am ecstatic!!! I am now a proud owner of a permanent band 5 contract and all the events and opportunities that have lead to this day have sometimes been hard but totally worth it in the end. I just wanted to say that if you are newly qualified physiotherapist looking for an NHS job don’t give up! I have had several interviews which have been unsuccessful but you can’t take it personally and you have to move on to the next one. Eventually something will come your way and it will be the reason you didn’t get the previous jobs you applied for, because everything happens for a reason.

So since I have now got a permanent band 5 post as promised I wanted to give students and new grads tips on how to write their supporting information. So firstly here are my top 10 tips for writing an application and attending an interview:

1. Read the PERSON SPECIFICATION….. this is the point all managers come back to that applicants haven’t done what they have asked. Sometimes there will be hidden questions to how they want you to approach the application. Basically don’t give them a reason to turn you away, use buzz words that are included in the person spec.

2. Make it personal to the trust, show them how you meet their vision and values if you don’t do this you might as well not even submit your application.

3. Demonstrate your transferable skills. If you have been involved in other activities outside of physiotherapy… what skills have you developed and how can you transfer them into practice.

4. Include your HCPC number and CSP membership number at the top. This means the recruiters don’t have to look through your application when it is staring them in the face.

5.Make sure you review the NHS jobs website daily. The website sends emails of new jobs at the end of the day not when a job goes out.

6. Get your application in early some NHS jobs can close within a couple of hours like the QE. Have a basic template for your application ready so you are ready to go when the job goes live.

7. Don’t make it any longer than 2 pages A4 treat it as a CV otherwise the recruiters will get bored if you are not keeping everything concise.

8.Attend interviews that you don’t want, you might change your mind when you get there and have a look around (and lets face it we can’t be fussy). Try and book an informal visit before the interview as this is something you can talk about during the face to face interview if you have one.

9. Prepare but don’t over prepare. Try and practice questions by answering them out loud as this is how you will be responding in the interview. But try to relax at the end of the day it is not the end of the world if you don’t get the job, nobody died and it is their loss.

10. Finally take in your CPD folder and make it relevant to the post you are applying for, that way they know you are dedicated to that specific post.

I can’t give you any real tips for interviews as they are all different but it is a skill you do develop…. so if you have a shocking one don’t beat yourself up about it. Below I have posted one of my applications with the name of the trust removed, I hope some of you may find it useful.

Physiotherapy BSc: Class 1 (Hons)

HCPC Registered: PH101564

Full member: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Full driving license.

As a very enthusiastic, driven, and dedicated person I believe I would provide a valuable contribution to the teams within X Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I believe X Hospital would facilitate me to achieve excellence, whilst allowing me to gain a firm grounding for a successful career in physiotherapy.

I wish to emulate the trusts vision of “……”. I believe I am a very personable, polite and enjoy taking the time to take a holistic approach with my patients. I feel the best outcomes are achieved when patients feel empowered and listened to. On clinical placement one of my patients lacked confidence and I felt by taking the time to understand their goals, this aided my treatment and their outcome. Conversely, I had a situation where I had to break bad news to a patient. The gentleman was likely to remain wheelchair bound due to him demonstrating no improvement over several months. Although I was presented with the harsh reality of stroke, the process was made easier due to the patient and family trusting me as I always aimed to answer any of their concerns and provide information when they required.

Through clinical placements I have been fortunate to gain experience in Intermediate Care, Acute Stroke, MSK x 2 and Orthopaedic Outpatients, Intensive Care at a major trauma centre and Elderly Rehabilitation. During this process I have been able to demonstrate my strengths in communication, time management and ownership of my own caseload, whilst also ensuring I am providing patient-centred care. This has been evidenced by feedback from my clinical educators in my CPD portfolio.

On my last two placements I demonstrated safe, effective and autonomous caseload management in an inpatient and outpatient setting. In both cases I was responsible for discharge planning and referral to appropriate services following MDT meetings or by written communication. I have been able to successfully demonstrate this through positive feedback received from educators, patients and from the wider MDT.

Clinical placement has allowed me to develop my problem solving skills. This can be demonstrated from my experience on intensive care. Coordination of care is essential in all settings; however, in intensive care it is vital due to patients being prone to fatigue. To ensure the MDT were working in a coordinated way I helped to implement the idea of writing a treatment timetable.  The timetable allowed for patients to feel empowered by them deciding when they wanted to be seen and it allowed staff to work together efficiently.

Data protection and patient confidentiality is a requirement for any practicing physiotherapist. I have demonstrated my awareness of this in my portfolio following completion of information governance modules: Patient Confidentiality, secure handling of confidential information and Records management and the NHS codes of practice.

At University I have maintained my manual handling training which I have applied to a practice setting. An example of this was when a patient had slipped out of her chair. To resolve this I autonomously worked with a physiotherapy assistant and used a slide sheet to ensure safety and dignity was maintained by the patient.

With the new changes being implemented in the NHS, it is important for physiotherapy services to provide evidence of positive outcomes. In light of recent failings in the NHS, it is essential for a practicing physiotherapist to adopt clinical governance to ensure patient safety remains the priority. Furthermore, I understand I have a personal responsibility to provide a clinically effective service by basing my practice on evidence and working within my scope of practice. As part of my elderly rehabilitation placement, I conducted a documentation audit using the quality assurance tool and presented this to staff. The audit highlighted shortcomings in record keeping which needed to be addressed, as it had the potential to impact patient outcomes. If I was to gain this post, X NHSFT would gain a physiotherapist dedicated to the profession who is flexible, proactive and who takes a positive approach to managing change and challenges.

Alongside clinical experience, I have been an active member of the CSP. For the last 4 years, I have been a student representative and I have served as Midlands Regional Coordinator for the Student Executive Committee (SEC) from 2011-2013. This role required the ability to organise and coordinate meetings between student reps at Coventry, Keele, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham. The meetings discussed relevant physiotherapy issues within the student population and ensured student input was applied to the wider society. Through this role, I have had the opportunity to present at conferences, contribute to policy, sit on the West Midlands Regional network and set up an Unemployed Graduate Scheme. The scheme was set up by myself to provide free evening CPD lectures for new graduates who were in the transition between graduation and employment. These opportunities have allowed me to develop my leadership, communication, organisational and presentation skills. My contributions to the society have been recognised this year as I was nominated and received highly commended CSP student representative of the year 2013.

I am an active learner and seek out any opportunities to further enhance my professional development. An example of this was applying to work with the University Rugby League team as their pitch side support .To enable me to take on this position I had to complete a pitch side first aid course and show further evidence of CPD activities related to the post. During this role I have had to work alone in high pressure situations which have enhanced my lateral thinking skills. I have had to negotiate with players and coaches on a regular basis to ensure players who were unfit to play remained on the side line. This role has highlighted my diplomacy skills to achieve ‘win win’ situation.

Outside of physiotherapy I have a passion for horse riding, which has continued through University. For the last 2 years I have been elected as 1st Team Captain, for the University Equestrian Club, and I have represented the University at British University and College Sport over the past 4 years. This role has enhanced my leadership and teamwork skills and has demonstrated my dedication to activities I am involved in as we were crowned national champions in 2013.

I enjoy being challenged in my work and I believe that physiotherapy should remain a seven day service for the benefit of the patients. Recent news discussing how patients who have elective surgery on a Friday are more likely to have complications highlights this. I would be willing to be flexible in my work as I believe my time management skills have ensured I can create a work life balance, evidenced by my commitment to my hobbies.

As a newly qualified graduate, I am aware of my scope of practice; which includes recognising personal weaknesses and critically appraising my performance and learning. I welcome the opportunity to discuss cases with colleagues, to share best practice and further develop my clinical reasoning skills. I am excited about the new learning opportunities X NHS trust would bring.

Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to hearing from you.

And that is really it I hope to keep you all updated with my progress as a new band 5 at Derby. Thank you to everyone who follows the blog, the support has been great and has really kept me going when times have been tough.

Feel free to leave me a comment or tweet me @LCphysio

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2 thoughts on “Decisions, Dilemmas and Diversion

  1. A good read Lucy! Keep up the good work! Passing on your knowledge and skills in see! I have a few pages of example questions which I can send you, that you can upload if you want…..with the introduction to include questions nicely donated from a fello graduate and csp sec legendary quiz master of course! 😉

  2. Pingback: #physiotalk on preparing for applications and interviews 14th April | physiotalk

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