An NHS Update..

13 years, 3 NHS trusts, 11 teams, 12 specialities, 1 pandemic, 1000’s patients, more on-calls/nights than my anxiety levels care to remember, countless shed tears and a lot of fond memories and life-long friends.  Last month I said goodbye and closed the NHS chapter in my life and took the leap with full time knicker saving.  Wow! What a rollercoaster it’s been!

What’s been my biggest realisation? I was a cog in a wheel, and now I am the whole wheel.  Obviously, all the cogs in the NHS wheel are extremely important as without the amazing staff we would not have the incredible service the NHS provides.  But in the NHS, you’re part of a team; there are others of all levels of experience and responsibilities all around you.  You’re working together, what you do directly impacts on those around you, for both the positive and the negative.  There’s also always a friendly face to go to and ask if you’re not sure, someone to bounce ideas off or even just someone to make you a cup of tea.  I know that some of my team were feeling more isolated with the increase in home working and less face-to-face meetings as a result of the pandemic.  But there was always someone on the end of the phone (or on Teams) if nothing else. 

In the NHS you know where you stand with what your role entails and your responsibilities as a clinician and colleague.  There are pathways, procedures, forms, supervision and structure.  Ask me to assess a child’s gross motors development, analyse the way a child walks, write a physio report, triage new referrals, formulate a treatment plan and goal set for a child with a neurological condition etc and I’m in my comfort zone. 

Now there’s just me… I’m way out of my comfort zone and I’ll be honest, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing…!

After 13 years I suppose you could say I have been somewhat institutionalised.  In the NHS I worked 8.30am-4.30pm you have 30 minutes for lunch, I ticked all the boxes, followed the steps, saw the patients, went home and repeated.  Suddenly this has all gone and it’s taken some adjusting.  The week before Storm Eunice came to blow our knickers (and roof tiles!) off, it was super sunny one morning and I remember thinking to myself “Ah it would be so lovely to go for a walk right now, but I’ll have to wait until lunch time”.  Wait a minute! I can have a walk whenever I want now!  But woah, did that feel strange, going for a 30 minutes wander in the sunshine at 10.30am?!  I’m also not usually very productive after lunch, but obviously in the NHS you power on through.  But the other week I realised during my post-lunch lull that it’s quality now, not quantity.  I stepped away from my desk, rolled out my yoga mat and then went back to my to do list afterwards and I was so much more productive.  Getting out of that NHS mindset is definitely going to take some adjusting.

There are lots of similarities through!  I still drink way too much tea and coffee (I just I have to make it all myself).  I still take too many trips to the kitchen to check out the snack situation.  My to do list will never be finished.  Just as in the NHS, there are still jobs I need to do that fill me with joy and those I’d rather avoid, except I’ve swapped teaching children to walk to revolutionising periods and challenging patients and their parents for VAT returns.

I swing between a feeling of loneliness and pressure but also incredible empowerment and gratitude.  There’s no senior colleague to call, no clear pathway to follow, years of training and experience to fall back on, it’s just me.  I am the wheel.  It’s up to me to keep pushing on, stop procrastinating and focus on the goal.  But what an opportunity!  I never thought I’d be hanging up my scrubs to save knickers!  I have the power to impact more people now and change more lives now (albeit in a slightly different way) than I ever could in the NHS.  I am so excited to see where this amazing new adventure takes me and I’m even more thankfully that you’re with me.