How would you like to spend your university summer break? Sunbathing in Tenerife? Definitely! Okay, apart from holidaying. Waitressing? Well, it pays the bills. How about working in the NHS doing the job you’re training for?
That’s what I did with my summer last year, working as a full-time Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) Support Worker split between a stroke unit and the community in Cumbria. I quickly settled in, being responsible for patients and families’ care. This freed up therapists’ time so they could focus on their caseload. I got the opportunity to see how different therapists worked and I gained a much richer breadth of experience that I would not have received from university placements alone. On my university course I always admired those who previously had been Support Workers, they brought such relevant insights and interesting stories! Now I’m working as a qualified SLT in Dumfries & Galloway, I’ve been able to use what I’ve seen to work in Cumbria and apply it to our service therefore improving the care we provide to our patients and giving my team new ideas.
I was excited to put my skills to good use practicing what I learnt in theory at university, but also adjusting to what working life is like working full-time in the NHS. I worked for 3-months and got to know the staff well forming friendships I still have today. These good professional relationships are still useful now in my current role as old colleagues refer patients over the border to our service.
All sounds pretty good right? Well at least I think so! That’s why I was happy to write this wee blog when I was approached by Laura Lennox when she heard my story. I’d love this experience to be other aspiring AHPs’ story too.
So how did this all come about? I decided to give the department a call and ask for work, after all you don’t get if you don’t ask! Following job advertisement and interview I got the job and was delighted. Though I’m aware many students may not have the confidence I had or think to try get an opportunity like this. This is ultimately why I’m writing today: to advocate for more Support Worker opportunities for student AHPs nationwide.
Let’s inspire the next generation of AHPs and build their skills and relieve the burden on our AHP services by not letting the talents of students go to waste. As our recent National AHP Day highlighted on the 14th October let’s take the lead in celebrating, appreciating, inspiring and connecting our budding AHPs of the future.
Emily Faulds, Speech and Language Therapist, Adult SLT Service, NHS Dumfries and Galloway