I found out about the NHS GMTS when I was researching graduate schemes in my final year of university, with a goal to work in a public sector organisation. As the first person in my family to go to university, I was unfamiliar with the world of professional careers, so I was very keen to find a structured graduate programme that would offer me the chance to try a few different roles. The NHS GMTS fit the bill, with three placements and the ability to gain a further qualification while earning.
When you apply, you'll be asked to specify your preferences for specialism and region. The NHS GMTS is a national scheme, and you could be placed anywhere, but I was lucky enough to secure a place in my home region. When I received the call to offer me my placements, I was asked for my home postcode and offered placements within commutable distance. However, depending on the number of applications for a region and placements available, some trainees are offered placements that require them to re-locate.
The first four weeks on GMTS form your "orientation" which is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the health & care services operating in your placement area. I visited local hospitals and community sites including a busy vaccination centre, sat in on elective and emergency surgery, spent a night shadowing in A&E and much more. The experiences I had in my orientation helped me understand the healthcare system I was beginning to work in and allowed me to form connections which went on to help me during my placements.
My first placement was at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, working as an operations Manager for a surgical specialty. This resulted in me having overall responsibility for the day-to-day running of the specialty including outpatient clinics, surgical operating lists, performance against targets and standards, line management of admin staff within the specialty and leading on a few improvement projects. It was a brilliant experience which has prepared me well for applying to similar operational positions after the scheme.
As part of the scheme, you have the chance to complete an 8 week "flexi-placement" which you normally organise and arrange for yourself. You are still paid by the scheme during this time, but you go and work for another organisation to further develop your leadership. I joined GE Healthcare, a large manufacturing company that supplies radiology equipment for many care organisations worldwide and worked on a number of projects including workforce planning and primary care research. I learnt a lot for such a short period of time and will soon be starting my second NHS placement at Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board working as a Project Manager.
I would recommend the scheme to anyone who wants to make a difference in the NHS with a non-clinical background. I have learnt so much and been given so many fantastic opportunities that wouldn't have been accessible for me if it weren't for the graduate scheme. However, the scheme is no small undertaking and the academic demands on top of your full-time work in placement can be very challenging at times. My advice is to plan ahead, don't leave your assignments to the last minute & take the time to journal/note down some of your experiences - you'll thank yourself later!