A week in the life of a trainee

The weekend is over and once again I need to reach for my diary and see what is in store for my week!

Monday (work component): Ah ha, today is the day every two weeks that I am in the Child LD service in the my employing health board. As my work component is in LD I do a session a week in their child LD service, which at present is a 0.5 clinical psychologist, 0.5 staff grade psychiatrist and me! I chose to do my session a week as a full day every two weeks as I found a half day a week to bitty. Today, I am seeing a 16 year old girl with a moderate LD and autism who has a phobia of toilets. After this I administer the first half of a WISC on one chap, and the second half on another. I also try to contact the geneticist for a girl whose neuropsychological evaluation I want to write up for a journal and I try to start preparing a poster for a conference at the end of April. Feeling pretty stressed!

Tuesday (study day): This is meant to be my study day but it rapidly disappears. A meeting has been called which I feel I need to attend. As I am in work anyway I end up staying till 5 making phone calls and writing reports. Where will I find time for my thesis????

Wednesday (work component): I am back in the adult LD department of my employing health board. I baked some cakes last night as it is our secretaries birthday, so we enjoy those and our LD Psychology team meeting. The pressure on our service is discussed as one psychologist is on a career break and another on mat leave. Everyone looks at me expectantly! ARRRGGGGHHHH! After lunch, I drive to a primary school. I have to feed back to a child protection panel the results of the WAIS for two parents whose children are on the CP register as they had been physically chastised. That goes much better than I hoped for and the children are taken off the register! Next stop, I meet with a chap for some anxiety and depression work. He is having many difficulties including trouble with police for his interactions with children. Back to the office to do notes and any other admin. Home about 7.

Thursday (Placement): On a Thursday and Friday I am out of area on a Child LD placement. I had to go out of area for this as my health board was not adequately resourced to offer me supervision. My morning starts off with the MDT team meeting. We discuss cases and share formulations. This is very useful for helping you think in different ways about cases. After this meeting the team has a consultation slot with a social worker to discuss referrals he has made and to help him to think about what he can do to support these families as we have a very long waiting list. After this I have an initial assessment with a girl with a mild LD, but who also is showing signs of an eating disorder and OCD. After work I go for a well earned glass of wine with other trainees.

Friday (Placement): Supervision this morning. That goes well. We are planning for my forthcoming mid-placement visit. I hope I have nothing to worry about!! After supervision, I have some time for paperwork and admin. It's not long until I am off out again. I go to a school to see an adolescent about ongoing issues with self-esteem. After this I return to the department and collect my supervisor and we go to see a family whose son has Downs', pica and ?ADHD.

Phew, what a busy week. They aren't all like this, but the further I get with cases the busier things seem to get. With being split over so many bases (I didn't even have teaching in this week) sometimes you can feel like you are never up-to-date on paperwork etc. however, I believe it will be of benefit if applying for split posts. I suppose the whole 5-year course has the benefit that you become much more an integral part of your department and you do feel valued. I think the cases I see are probably more complex than a typical trainee, and certainly in the last year they keep getting more complex, as my supervisors confidence in me grows. It's certainly an experience!

wondaduck added their experience of being a first year trainee:

I'm currently on a adult/older adult/health/anything that comes through placement! I spend 3 days a week on placement, which changes every 6 months.

Monday: Placement
Seeing an 88 year old women with panic attacks, then a 75 year old man at his home who's having a lot of difficulty adjusting to his diagnosis of lung cancer. This man is deaf but can lip read as long as I speak with a northern accent, which makes it much more interesting!
Then back to the office to write up notes. I spend the afternoon putting together a training package for care assisstants about dementia & challenging behaviour and ring up care homes.

Tuesday: Placement
Psychology team meeting first. This always includes a case presentation by one of the psychologists & a discussion, which is really useful and interesting.
Then do some executive functioning tests with a 35 year old involved in an RTA. Score up the tests then I have supervision with one of the consultants.

Wednesday: Placement
Today is my busy clinic-type day. Due to restrictions in the service I can only book a room on this day so I can't really balance my week out!
First is a 25 year old man with depression, anger and a lot of interpersonal difficulties. Then a 39 year old woman with sexual dysfunction (she has a fear of orgasm), and next a 58 year old woman with health anxiety and related relationship difficulties. I've got a new assessment today for a woman with bullimia and depression. Finally, I'm doing some life story work with a 62 year old man who's just been diagnosed with end-stage cancer of the throat.

Thursday: Study
Study day. Every other week we have teaching. Today I'm starting revision for my exam (yay!), and doing some work on my thesis proposal.

Friday: Teaching
Teaching. Today's the last teaching day before the exams so bit different to usual. We've got reflection on year one, prep for the exam and a final lecture on 'ethics and values'.

Every placement, service and supervisor really varies. Even though on this placement I'm a bit restricted by room availablility, I like that I've got a good range of clients in terms of age/difficulty. Sometimes it is pressured to get the 'right' client to fit neatly with coursework for uni (I don't enjoy tick boxes!). there's also a continuous stream of assignments/reports that I've got to keep on top of outside of research/placement, but I find that if you work hard on a study day, generally the weekends are free except just before a deadline. I think it's really important to get in the habit from year 1 of having an outside life! A few people I know work constantly, and it's not good for their stress levels! Once I actually start my research there will be more pressure, but I'm sure it's still do-able!

Inspired by Emma and wondaduck, nettyb added how her week looked 4 months before qualifying:

Monday and Tuesday:
Monday and Tuesdays are study days. At the moment my time is taken up with writing up my thesis. I have the method, introduction and literature review written, they're now with proof readers (thankfully). I spend Monday analysing my interview data, but can't really make a start on the results section as I'm waiting for more interview transcripts to come back from the transcriber. On Tuesday I make a start on my references, checking that I have all the references in my lit review in my reference list and then I start to write notes for the discussion.

Wednesday:
Today I'm at placement which is my elective placement on an in-patient eating disorders ward. I spend the first hour in the referrals meeting where new referrals and the waiting list is discussed. I then meet up with the Assistant Psychologists and supervise them on a research project that we are doing together. I see a client at 11am, the lady I'm seeing presents with complex trauma, OCD, Anorexia Nervosa, and also has a BPD diagnosis. I'm using CBT for psychosis with this client to challenge beliefs about the powerfulness of voices (which are really PTSD flashbacks). After this session I write up my notes then have lunch. In the afternoon I have team supervision with the consultant psychiatrist, named nurses, and support workers who are working with my clients. This can either involve offering advice, helping staff to understand the formulation, or conducting training on specific issues or CBT interventions that I would like them to complete with my clients inbetween our individual therapy sessions. Later in the afternoon I conduct some psychometric tests with another client on the ward who may have experienced some neuronal damage as a result of anorexia, bulimia or alcohol abuse. I meet with the Consultant Psychiatrist for CBT supervision after 5pm as that is the only time she can fit me in!

Thursday:
Another placement day. I have supervision at 9am and then see another client straight afterwards. This is a middle aged lady who has chronic anorexia and has been unwell since her teenage years. I do some body image work with her. I spend some time writing up notes and make a start on the neuro report for the client I saw yesterday. I then have an hour to prepare for the DBT group which I run later in the day with one of the nurses on the ward. I have another client in the afternoon who also has anorexia, complex trauma, and a BPD diagnosis, we are currently working on stage one of DBT together. The rest of the day is spent writing notes.

On both placement days I find that staff will approach me for advice and support with clients, this felt a bit strange at first but now feels more comfortable and I feel confident in my role within the team. I think that the placement has been great in preparing me for qualification, I have quite alot of autonomy already and have learned a great deal.

Friday:
Friday is another study day as teaching ended last week. I spend today working on the analysis of my results, and beginning to write notes for the results section of my thesis.

At the moment this is a very typical week. My weekends are spent with family and friends, I usually start to feel guilty by Sunday afternoon and so try and get a few hours of thesis in then too! It still seems a bit surreal and scary that this will all be over soon, but the prospect of that is also very exciting!

We want to keep our information as relevant and up-to-date as possible, so if you want to discuss this post, or have any additions or improvements in mind, we encourage you to post a new thread about it in the forum.

You may also like to read up on the structure, rules and copyright for additional information.