Tag Archives: placement thoughts

Fortune Favours The Brave…

Hi everyone, I’m Adriana. This is my first ever blog entry so kindly bear with me as I take you through the ups and downs of my placement journey.

Firstly, I study Sociology and Social Policy and I’m currently doing my placement year at Aston University. I am working with the Learner Enhancement Team which is a part of the Careers and Placement cohort and I’m working as a ‘Project Assistant’.

I personally have to say that my placement journey thus far has been amazing. I’ve met some amazing people who understands me and my crazy self and I have personally developed in so many areas already just based on my daily responsibilities and encounters with the knowledgeable individuals within my team.

But before you all create an amazing picture of my ideal and compatible placement; let’s first take it back all the way to November 2015 when my placement search officially started (and also the start of my 2nd year at university). So there I was, confident in myself discussing with my friends about how I’m going to get a paid  placement located somewhere in Birmingham and my life would be great and I would be rich and I would take everyone out for drinks with my placement salary that I would be receiving. LOL. (Yep, I wrote LOL, because I’m currently laughing at myself for thinking like that). Little did I know that the placement search wasn’t necessarily that easy (oblivious right…I know); I applied for specific placements such as Human Resources and even those related specifically towards Social policy. I struggled a lot because I wasn’t using the appropriate channels to assist me during my hunt for placements. Despite my many attempts and disappointments of getting no response and rejections, I simply gave up and focused on my academic side of my university life. I completely ignored searching for placements due to my previous set-backs and disappointments but the whole thought of going straight into final year without any form of experience would be a more detrimental burden for me personally.

So once 2016 commenced I resumed my placement search and I received quite a few offers for interstewieviews from various businesses across Birmingham and other places in the UK. At that point, I personally felt that I was accomplishing something but that was only the beginning of my placement journey as it was all very competitive.

I went to some of the assessment centres and despite numerous offers I turned them down simply because they were all voluntary and it was not entirely what I was looking for. At this stage, it was going towards the end of the term and I was truly concerned about my placement and in addition to that, I also had to prepare for exams and also essays and projects. By the way, did I mention that I was working part time every week as well doing at least 30 hours over a three day period(Lawwd help me)…I had a lot of things on my plate at the time and it was truly tiring however I ensured that I did everything in moderation. At times I really struggled to do everything all at once however, I was surrounded by some truly great friends who kept encouraging me to apply for placements and to revise for my upcoming exams.

I then got offers to numerous assessment centres and the roles were paid and I thought that it was going to be my lucky break as the roles were related to the career path that I wanted to go towards. I prepared a lot for the assessment centres, I learnt so much about the companies that I thought I knew more about the companies that the owners to be honest.  I made it all the way to final stage of the assessment centres and in the end, I didn’t get any of them because according to the employers the other individual had more experience than me so as a result I was unsuccessful.

Disappointed once again, I sort of gave up any hope of securing an actual placement that would accept me. And to add pressure to the situation, I was due to leave the country in approximately 2 weeks to visit Jamaica for an entire month.

I was so lost in myself because I wasn’t entirely sure what to do about the placements because it seemed that every single corner that I turned there was some form of barrier or something which knocked me right back to straight to step one. Then I kept applying and I tried having some faith despite the set-backs and then I got invited to an assessment centre at Aston University. I remember that I turned up slightly late to the assessment centre because I had no form of motivation or interest in attending because I thought it would have been another failure due to the other set of disappointments plus it was also on campus and I didn’t even want to set my big toe on campus for another year, much less going there for every single day of every week for the next 12 months *sigh*.  At this stage, I was thinking it’s better to actually try rather than to give up completely.

After the assessment centre I kept applying for other placements hoping to find something else and I could remember clearly the week before I was to fly out to paradise (Jamaica); I was working at Silverstone for the 2016 F1 Grand Prix and I was literally depressed and worried so much because the chances of securing a placement before jetting off was looking rather slim. On one of my very depressed days, I received a phone call from this lovely lady from Aston University; immediately I thought I was in some form of trouble or something but to my surprise I was told that I was accepted onto the team as the new placement student. There and then all I could have done was say thank you for the opportunity over the phone and give the good Lord thanks because despite my many failed attempts at securing a placement I was actually recognised and chosen for a change. And in that very small moment sparked a bit of hope in myself. A bit of hope which I clenched onto till this very day because despite all the odds against me, time was the master in determining how everything would have worked in my favour.

So I went to Jamaica for a whole month and had the most amazing time with my family and friends and I came back to England and started my placement and I personally have to say, my placement journey ever since has been absolutely amazing. Integrated with my team from the get go. They took me to Pizza Express on the first day and that’s how I knew the team was perfect for me because on my very first day we did my most favourite activity together and that’s eating food. (Yes, eating food is one of my many hobbies) But the point is, I’ve been blessed to be a part of such a fantastic team who supports, guide and teaches me so much that I see my ‘unwanted’ placement as a blessing in disguise.
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But that’s enough from me for now. I’m here writing away as if I’m Shonda Rhimes so let me leave you all with my little placement journey for now. But one thing you should take away from all of this is that even in your darkest times you should always have faith and hope because time is the master of everything.

Take Care!

Adriana aka Shelly (That’s my nickname, don’t ask! )

How my year abroad changed my mindset :-)

So… Summer has finally hit Spain, and let me tell you, it’s ridiculously boiling!

I’m a person that doesn’t like having a tan, as I tend to go bright red and when you put that with my blonde hair, you’ve got a walking fruit salad. So, I’ve been spending the past few weeks either shade-bathing, or revising. But… With one exam left tomorrow that I’ve no clue about, seeing as nobody (even the lecturer) seems to know when or where it is.. It’s time to go cray. By “cray”, I mean lots of gym sessions and eating lots of salad and fruit and all the good stuff… That’s the life!

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In this post, I wanted to write about how my experience this year has helped shape me, without going into too much detail or being too corny. If you’re thinking of taking a year abroad or a similar experience, this could happen to you too!

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viva la vida

Before I left The UK, I was struggling with panic attacks up to twice a week. It was awful and it was getting out of hand. Sometimes, I didn’t know why I was having them, and other times, it would be in the middle of an exam (not very convenient…). This is a very real thing happening to a lot of other students. I am super dedicated to my studies at Aston, and I love what I do, but the pressure I put on myself back then was ridiculous. I’ll also mention that I haven’t had a single panic attack since June 2015! :-)

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It’s only looking back now that I realise how much calmer I am (not just because of the siestas), and how much more positive I am.

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Things are going to happen, good or bad, and you just learn to deal with that and look at the positives that may come out of that situation. Nothing is worth stressing yourself to oblivion about. If it makes you that stressed, you should probably take a step back.

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I’ve spent most of my university life unnecessarily panicking when I could have been having fun and making the most of it. So I decided to compensate this year and let loose a little more. I’ve done things I’d never have dreamed of doing. When I arrived in Toulouse I went out on my own all the time, met people whilst I was on my own, travelled across the country in blablacars (with strangers) went to bars on my own, etc. I’d have never done that at home! It’s all about risk-taking, and learning that you can do things, you just have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

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I’ve just started to learn to not take myself so seriously and to take things as they come. Now I’m at a ridiculously disorganised uni in Spain, I’ve become a lot more laid back and I’ve realised that it’s not going to be the end of the world if something goes pear shaped, just do your best and you’ll get there. Never compare yourself to others. People are going to do better than you, just learn from them.

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The more positive you are about things, the less you’ll worry. If you work hard, at least you can say you tried with everything you had. Everyone likes a try-er. My Spanish has definitely improved during my time in Spain, and as long as it’s getting better and I’m trying hard, I’m happy with that, but still… My already Italian accent has become even more prominent since living with two Italians. But the positive side of this is, it makes for a good laugh.

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“try and look spanish…”

But there’s something else that I must mention which is something important to me: never forget where you come from. Living in a beautiful country of organised chaos (yep, I’m talking about Spain), has made me appreciate what we have in The UK, and to never take it for granted. Sure, there are bits that aren’t so great, but you’re going to get that wherever you go. Valencia is beautiful and I love living abroad, but it doesn’t mean the grass is greener. People might moan about the weather at home – why? Be happy. The UK is beautiful, we get 4 seasons that we get to witness and we are very fortunate. Nothing can change where you’re from, and being away has made me become proud of the uniqueness of being British. Whether it’s milk in your tea or funny accents, it doesn’t matter.

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Be happy and stay positive,

Amy

 

7 Transferable skills that you can learn as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist

Hello again! How is everyone getting on? it’s been a while since my last post, truth be told I have been slacking slightly on keeping up with the regular posts… but that is no excuse to keep my readers waiting in anticipation! Gosh what month are we in now… APRIL! That means that I am already two-thirds into my placement, by July I’ll be finished.. where has the time gone!

Now I can understand that some of you will be at a point where you are still trying to secure a placement. Now rest assured if that is the case then you do not have to be worried about a thing! It is often the case that you might not be finding the luck in getting the placement of your choice, but with persistent determination you’ll be bound to find one! In all honestly I think Aston students fail to acknowledge just how many placement opportunities are available, enough to go around for everyone (though of course some placements differ in quality than others)

The thought of trying to focus on your academic studies whilst applying for your placement simultaneously can be such a stressful task at times, hence why I highly recommend that you guys book yourself into a spa of some sort.

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Regardless, don’t get discouraged if you keep failing to secure a placement, chin up and keep hitting that apply button! 

However if you are one of those students who have already secured your placement, then I can certainly imagine you will be doing something like this…

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Upon securing your placement, you will have the desire to know what your new placement year will bring you, the challenges that you will encounter but most importantly the transferable skills that you will be able to take back with you into your final year studies.

Below I have nicely (tried to!) summarised the transferable skills that I have picked up on so far  whilst on my placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist. For those interested in the field of clinical psychology, these might be of relevance to you!

1)  In this placement, you will get many opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of psychology. You need to make sure you take as much back as you can from this placement. Make notes and learn the different therapy models (the three most relevant: Biological ,Social and Psychological) Use this time to gather ideas for your final year dissertation!

2)  This placement will guarantee you a strong insight into the field of clinical psychology. Throughout my own placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist in the Community Mental Health Team, I have learnt to appreciate clinical psychologists and their commitment to the field of mental health.

3)  In your placement, you will start to build up a good rapport of psychosis. There are different diagnosis levels which vary from least severe to extremely incapacitated. This diagnosis assessment helps clinical psychologists assess who requires therapy and which type in particular, whereas less severe patients are recommended to other services of which could be NHS owned or third-party.

4)  Your placement supervisors will offer you many opportunities to shadow in clinical settings and even allow you to sit in large groups where you can administer questionnaires and build up an understanding with service users. Through experience you will start to gain confidence in speaking with service users and listening to their past history whilst adjusting your behaviour and appropriateness.

5)  You will be making a good use of your IT skills throughout the year. You will be expected to have basic admin knowledge and have worked on databases using MS Excel as well as MS Word. Expect to be a pro at taking minutes in a meeting by the end of the year! 🙂

6)  As an Honorary Assistant Psychologist, you will be sitting in on Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings. This is where service user referrals are discussed and different professionals ranging from Psychiatrists, Junior Doctors, Support workers, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Clinical Psychologists all give their input on how to deal with this service user best. You will get to understand how team work and sharing perspectives helps make decisions especially in the Community Mental Health Team setting.

7)  Overall this placement is very relevant to clinical psychology and will benefit you and your personal growth. You will strive to be proactive, show self-initiative in your work and demonstrate confidence in your own ability.

Hope that helps!

What would you want to take back from your placement year? Let me know what you guys think in the comments section below!

Until next time!

8 Tips For Being A Successful Applicant And Securing A Psychology Placement Interview

Welcome back. Hope everyone has survived the bleak January blues. Trust me I know… the feeling of starting your day in pitch darkness and ending it in pitch darkness alongside the pleasantries of the English weather. This is by far the most depressing feeling that one should never endure.. but alas spring is nearly here. So, enough faffing about and lets crack on shall we?

Hope you are all doing well, especially with the exam season coming to an end, I bet some of you are making the most of these weeks to have a breather and prepare for the second term! Literally I can still recall sitting in one of my exams during second year half way through an essay feeling like my arm was going to fall off because I was writing too fast! Thought I’d take short break and…

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Now I know that the super duper highly organised students (and that doesn’t include me)  have most likely accepted and secured their placement offer by now.. however for those who haven’t… do not worry, for atlas help has arrived! In the form of a…. blog post! 🙂

Lol okok I’m just going to cut to the chase, I thought I’d dish out some simple yet helpful tips that can often be overlooked. I’m sure you lot will benefit from this in the long run especially when it comes down to your very own applications and interviews!

1)  You should aim to start early and keep yourself organised. Make it a weekly routine to check the Aston placements website for newly added placements.

2)  Make sure your CV is up-to-date and has been thoroughly checked over for any grammatical errors. This also applies for your cover letter. If you need support with this, it is highly recommended that you try the Aston Royal Literary Fellow service.

3)  Show your passion through interests and your dedication through experiences. An employer loves to see candidates who have a variety of experiences in different work settings.

4)  As a candidate during the interview process, you need to demonstrate a professional and confident outlook. Take pride in your achievements and don’t be afraid to talk about them even if they aren’t relevant to the placement.

5)  Be yourself! The placement employers won’t expect you to know it all. Remain calm at all times and don’t let your nerves get the better of you. When giving responses do not rush to answer, take time if you need to think of a well thought answer.

6)  Throughout the interview, remain positive, that is the key! If you ever feel at any point during the interview that you’ve given a poor response or ruined your chances, then simply “Keep Calm And Carry On”. Most interviewees experience this feeling but later it turns out that the interview went better than expected!

7)  Keep your options open, apply for as many placements as possible. The more interviews the better. Not only will this be good for your experience and confidence, but it will also show you how competent you are. Once you feel that you have enough options in the bag, start to deduce your placement offers by making comparisons taking different factors into consideration such as travel distance, job specifications, perks etc.

8)  DISCLAMIER: Please make sure you thoroughly read the job specification for the placement you are applying for. Often students miss out on the crucial details which make a huge difference in what they actually do during their placement year. For example, in terms of responsibilities and experiences, this is a significant difference between Assertive Outreach and Community Mental Health. Try researching each role carefully and try finding past placement students who have worked in either role to see their perspective on it!

Hope that helps!

Let me know what you guys think makes an interview successful in the comments section below!

Until next time!

Welcome to the working world of psychology in the NHS

Hi everyone, welcome to my first post of the month! My name is Ali and as an Aston placement year student I haven’t really had the opportunity to introduce myself, I think now is the chance! I’m originally from Worcester (home to the famous Worcestershire sauce!).

For those who don’t know me, I study BSc Psychology at Aston and will be going into my fourth and final year studies come October 2016. So.. what am I doing in my placement year? Since the start of early September 2015, I officially became an honorary assistant psychologist! Now for those who don’t know, an Honorary is the unpaid equivalent of an Assistant psychologist who on the other hand, may bear extra responsibilities and most of all…gets paid! However when one looks at the benefits and experiences that an honorary assistant post has to offer, the dilemma of working for free doesn’t sound that bad after all! Now you might be asking yourself.. what are exactly these responsibilities?  

  1. As an honorary assistant, you will have plenty of opportunities to observe assessments and/or therapeutic work with service users reporting psychological difficulties.
  2. To be able to develop and practice skills in psychological assessments and interpretation, making good use of formulations and honing your listening ability.
  3. To support clinicians in everyday tasks such as analysing service user notes to find specific information or divulging into past histories searching for life events that could have been potential triggers contributing to mental health disorder.
  4. To be able to observe multidisciplinary discussions about a service users diagnosis, treatment, risk assessment and care plan issues whilst having opportunities to interact with other professionals.

Now what I mentioned above is just the tip of the ice berg, as there is always something new to encounter and things to pick up as an honorary assistant. The service users that you come across each portray their own unique diagnoses alongside the relevant therapies given. As I progress through my placement year, every month my post will cover certain aspects of my honorary assistant post and the key highlights of my experiences.  Mind you, it’s quite interesting to listen to our experiences as the leap from University life (theoretical) to a fixed routine working life (practical hands on) can be quite difficult at first to adjust to.

I’m guessing you are eager to ask me right now, what is the work placement world like? It’s actually what you would expect, working your socks off 9am till 5pm 4 days a week. It’s really not that bad when compared to working a full 5 days a week! I guess that’s the benefits of being a psychology placement student.  Up till now the most I’ve really struggled with is commuting. As I live in Worcester, a standard train journey to Birmingham can take up to an hour and this is not including the walking distance between the station and the placement location. Therefore in order to be punctual and on time, I’ve often found myself waking up much earlier (6am wakies) than friends in similar psychology placements, only because I’m geographically situated further away from Birmingham than they are. However for me that’s no excuse for being late! Unfortunately the down side for me is that because of other commitments i.e. part time work and extra curricular activities, I often find myself either jogging or running around most of the time!

Overall, I’ve found myself  having a very compact and structured day in which I would find myself waking up early and sleeping late. Even till now I’m still trying to find ways to balance my activities and sleep routine, as I feel I don’t have enough time to get most of my tasks done. To address this issue, I’ve came up with a time management plan in which I prioritise my workload effectively. This allows me to get the most important tasks completed for the week, leaving the weekend free to have a break in the evenings after my part time job in the mornings! I think the only thing that I’m constantly worried about is falling asleep in the train especially in the mornings! The feeling of waking up in the train realising that you’ve completely missed your station and have to spend hours getting back isn’t a pleasant one!

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I hope you’ve found my introduction post useful,  I’m certain it will provide an insight that will be useful for anyone with an interest in a clinical psych placement like this or something similar. Please stay tuned for my second post, see you all!

So this is it!

Today is the day I move out of my London flat. Everything is packed and the freezer is just defrosting! All I need is dad to pull up, complain about how much stuff I have (Disney does make the best soft toys ever) and then battle to get it all in the car only to turn around at the end and say ‘well it fitted in quite well considering’!

I cannot believe that I only have a week left at Disney on placement. It may sound cliché but the year has totally flown by. So much has happened that the months and weeks have slipped by. Yes there have been times that have been exceptionally tiring and I wished for a longer weekend but I honestly do not know where the time has gone.

Looking forward I now have a long summer ahead, taking 36 scouts to Japan and then a holiday in Greece. Then the dreaded thought of returning back to university. I’m faced with writing two dissertations, coursework and exams, something I haven’t really focused on now for over a year. However, I do feel that taking a placement year has shown me a couple of things:

1. Getting into a routine of working makes you productive

2. Putting in 100% effort gets you places

3. Working makes you focus on what you want to get out of degree

I’m now looking forward to finishing university and finding a job that I love as much as what this placemement has been!

Hasta Luego (See you later)

Hola chicos y chicas,

You are probably busy with exams and essays as usual but guess what?

It will all come to an end soon and we will swap places. You will be in Spain soaking up the sun whilst I’m in the UK depressed because of the weather 🙁 .

I’m kind of jealous now (I’m being honest) because even though it has been 9 months and I still have 3 left. I’m dreading leaving Seville. I have fallen in love with this beautiful and magical city and like I’ve said before I would marry Seville (I’m not kidding). As you can see I have loved my Erasmus year and I can confidently say that it has been one of the best years of my life. I know what you are probably thinking.

 

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I’m not even going to defend myself, I’m just going to let you go abroad and then we will talk when you finish your placement 😉 . As you can see, this blog post is kind of sad because that time of the year has come again. Time to say goodbye and I thought I would be the best at this because I’m already used to saying goodbye to people. I’ve had to say goodbye to my friends and family when I left Portugal, I’ve had to say goodbye to my family when I moved to Birmingham (I know it’s not that far away from Cardiff, but it still counts) and then when I moved to Spain. So, I thought “I will be fine when the girls leave, it will be like a piece of cake”.

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By the way, I did not cry (I’m not lying, ok) but it was hard to say goodbye to some of the best people that I’ve met. I think they have made my experience and influenced me a lot (not in a bad way, obviously, maybe). You would think, I would have to wait until June but no. It started in September, two weeks after I started my placement, I had to say goodbye to my older sister (which happens to be an Aston student). Two months later, I had to say goodbye to my princess, followed by my godmother in December, my twin in January, my annoying cousin in February and my next door neighbour in April. Everyone left me, literally, not even my Polish mentor stayed to check on my progress.

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However, I’m actually proud of myself because I thought I was going to cry a river, when my next door neighbour left. She was the last Original girl, they were all here when I was just a newbie and we kind of started all at the same time. To see them leave one by one was hard, specially the last one. Anyway, the moral of the story is, enjoy every single second of your placement year abroad. Enjoy your new friends and the memories that you will create together. So that during your final year, you can go and travel around Europe to reminisce over your memories.  I know I will be doing that because I’ve already been invited to a wedding in Vietnam (look at me, V.V.I.P )

 

Don’t forget, when you are in your placement year abroad to have fun, meet a lot of people, travel, create amazing memories and say hasta luego. Hasta Luego is more joyful and exciting than a good bye (let’s be honest, you want them to stay in your life otherwise how are you going to get invited to international weddings?)

 

Hasta Luego 🙂

The adventures of a placement student

Hola chicos y chicas !!!!

I know it has been a while but I hope everything is going well with your placement search.On this blog post I will be telling you about my new adventure.  YYYYYYEEEEEEAAAAHHHHHH.So, I red in this article that people that like to travel a lot have this gene called wanderlust gene. I think mine has started to manifest as now I’m always travelling or planning trips. So, this time I went to Africa.

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I spent 4 days in busy Marrakech and I can tell you that I would definitely go back, just for shopping. Marrakech is completely different to every place that I have been and as soon as I got there I got a cultural shock. There were donkeys on the road, people crossing the road without looking, motorcycles everywhere with the whole family on top. Different stairs, cats everywhere and people calling all sorts of things just to get your attention ( They called me Shakira, like, do I look like Shakira). I was shocked.

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10 things to know about London

Since coming back from Christmas work has been quite quiet. Mainly because I have spent the past month or so laid up in bed sick but also because we’re just catching up from the madness of Christmas.

So I have put Aladdin on the TV and will give you a bit of an insight into what it is like to move to the capital city.. The big smog… LDN!

1. Zebra crossings just aren’t a thing. The cars, buses, cyclists or bin lorries don’t care for them and you actually risk your life on them every day. The scene where Regina George in Mean Girls is mowed down by the school bus is something I face every day!

2. The tubes aren’t that bad. They are convenient, when they are running, and are quite pleasant when you get a seat. Just make sure you anti bac your whole body after getting off.

3. Tourists spots become a bit of a no-go and the famous Oxford Street becomes a place you will do anything to avoid.

4. Going to the bar, pub, anywhere that serves alcohol is extremely normal after work and is actually just part of the day, like lunch time!

5. Housing is very expensive. I pay twice as much as what I did in halls and four times as much as what I did in 2nd year.

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using your initiative

initiative… A hard word to spell, well for me anyway- however so important on this placement.

As an assistant you have to be prepared to be told what needs to be done, and then get it done. However this isn’t the only role you have within your assistant role.

You have to remember you are a new pair of eyes, a fresh face, and an imaginative person. If you can see something which your work place would benefit from, talk about it, set it up… As long as your supervisor doesn’t say no.

This is exactly what I’ve done. Myself and the Research Assistant (Rose) have set up our very own “clinical reference and reflection group” (Basically a posh name for a group which meets weekly to talk about clinical things and topics and teach each other about them). This week I am preparing a pack on anger and anger management using resources such as self help guides to teach other people within the service about the topic, and in turn this could help a client! Positive!

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Myself and Rose 🙂

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