Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

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Spatch
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Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by Spatch » Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:29 pm

Dedicated to Ell and Gilly, who inspired this.

Its that time of year when many of you will begin the ritual journey that will hopefully culminate in you taking your place amongst us in qualified land. The road is paradoxical. Its hard, but well supported, busy but protected, and whilst at times it seems like it will never end, by this time in 3 years you will genuinely wonder where the time went. So whilst you stand on that threshold between all that came before, and all that is to come, I would like to think about what I would have liked to have known before I even set foot on campus. Yet again.

1). The golden summer.

There is probably no happier time than that halcyon era between getting your offer and starting. You have all the joy and excitement of having got onto training and none of the hardships or headaches associated with actually doing the bloody thing. Savour this time, be mindful of how you feel and do the best to bottle the memories and emotions associated with the moment. In retrospect I can see it was truly a great time, and I still draw on those memories nearly 7 years after the event, and probably will do for the foreseeable future. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction and vindication of having fought hard for something you wanted and having made it.

I am a great advocate in taking time out before starting your clinical training, the more the better. Ideally you will be getting to the stage where you have done so little in the preceding months you will be raring to go. Don't see it as an indulgence, its an investment. See it as a time to take stock of your life so far, a chance to connect to friends and family and also a well earned break for what most have worked hard and relentlessly to have achieved. Its understandable to let the daily cares of bills and routine make that decision for you, but there is much to be gained from just doing nothing. If nothing else, it breaks down that niggling feeling of needing to be productive and achieving things that many of our brethren carry around with us.

2) Pay your respects

You no doubt worked hard to get that telephone call saying “congratulations”, but never forget that behind all of the glory there is usually a lengthy line of people that got you to that interview. If you are arrogant like me, you may have a habit of thinking all your gains are the fruits of all your own hard work, visionary foresight and uncanny abilities. The input of supportive parents, long suffering partners, various friends and well-wishers that have helped us along the way tend to recede into the background.

Even if you didn't have many of these sources of support, and somehow arrive on training after coming in from a near feral background, there are still many that will have contributed to the foundations you will have built your success upon. You will have had tutors, teachers, supervisors who will have some part to play in your journey. Or that person that gave you that lucky break that got you a foothold in this competitive industry that you subsequently ran with. Don't forget to give them your due respect and continuing support and contact. One good way to do that is by actively mentoring those that are coming after you.

Bear in mind that Band 6 salary didn't just get there by itself. It was fought for long and hard by your psychology predecessors, and paid for by the taxes of everyone else, most of whom won't be earning anywhere near your potential. Its especially worth bearing that in mind on a placement where you may be out earning people that have been there a lot longer than you will be. It may be dreadfully outdated to think this way, but noblesse oblige. For whatever its joys and faults of training its always worth remembering that its a privilege, not a right.


3) The parting of ways

Hopefully most people who learn of your impending traineedom will greet it with cheers and tears of unbridled delight. However, while training will undoubtedly bring many new people into your life, its worth bearing in mind that getting onto training can often equally be divisive. Most obvious is when the start of training is linked to long hours, neglected partners and sometimes long distances, the impact of which often doesn't sink in until after things start. However, at least you are aware of this.

What you may not notice so much is the people that you leave behind unintentionally. It may be that a whole bunch of you graduated at the same time and set off on your clinical psychology journey together. It can be quite dispiriting for them to see you achieve their dreams, while they are still at square one, and you may have experience of being in that position yourself. Or that little gang of assistants who suddenly realise that all of their number are no longer in the same boat. One extreme case I was told was where one unsuccessful candidate was no longer willing to be bridesmaid on finding out that her to-be wed friend had successfully got onto training, despite being fitted for gowns and everything. No matter how many fixed smiles and “well dones”, this clearly stuff hurts and it may be the time to crack out those sensitivity and calming skills that you will need in your future professional life.

It doesn't just have to be your peers. By reaching we transcend. I particularly remember an almost officer-like salute I received from the old Band 5 that first showed me how to make hospital corners and empty a bedpan without it splashing back on you. It was oddly humbling. Depending on your background you may find you have taken a social or financial step up, and you won't be the first trainee who suddenly finds themselves playing the starring role in a weird version of Educating Rita.


4) Don't get scared. They aren't superwomen

Its natural to be curious about your fellow travellers/inmates/contestants, but its worth bearing in mind a few things about your fellow trainees. There is some mythology around trainees all being super powered ubermensch, and this can even come from folk with direct exposure to trainees who really should know better. Most trainees are reasonably bright, hard working and motivated, but most will not be geniuses. You may even get someone who writes on the forum/ facebook/ turns up on induction, who comes across like they have done everything and know everything, but more often than not it's image and covering up. In reality you get very few Ruthiesque spods. If you are prone to it, don't let it set off your imposter syndrome or get the “Do I have what it takes to be here?” jitters. The more prosaic reality is that you will know stuff, they will know stuff but ultimately you are all there to learn. You are there for a reason and clearly there have been several people along the process who have thought you capable of making it through otherwise you wouldn't be there in the first place.

So thats it. No doubt the rest of the qualfieds and trainees here will have their bit to say. You of course are totally free to disregard any of the above, and while I now may merely shake my head, I will concede my historical trainee version would high five you for it. If you have read any of this and thought “Well duh, who doesn't think that?” almost every single point I have made has come from the mistakes I have made via embarrassing personal experience or from direct observation of a trainee somewhere, in some place, not doing it.

But that's not you. Congratulations and enjoy the summer.

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noodle
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by noodle » Sat Jun 23, 2012 2:22 pm

Brilliant Spatch. Thanks for this :D

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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by Will » Sat Jun 23, 2012 3:30 pm

This was really interesting, thanks Spatch!
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by jane doe » Sat Jun 23, 2012 4:16 pm

Some days I'd give anything just to spend a day back in the Golden Summer... 8)
Similar to that magical time at the end of training when you've handed in the thesispassed the viva, sorted out a job, and relaaaaaaax. I'd also give anything to spend a day back in that summer too! :D

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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by eponymous85 » Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:22 pm

Lovely :) good advice well put. It was nice to reflect that my old assistant friends are still very much in touch :D Would love one for these of us about to qualify if anyone feels up to it!
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by Borrowed Cone » Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:36 am

... I would like to reaffirm: you are not there because you know it already; but because you have demonstrated what it takes to learn. You would do well to remember this, even when you think you know. Humility is a priceless trait.

Open your learning window and let it shine in, even on those cloudy days. Especially on those cloudy days.

Do remember that feeling of "I can't believe I've got on" (or equivalent), because there will be times when you believe you shouldn't be there, or just don't want to be there. I think it is that feeling, when you really remember why you are doing what you are doing, that carries you through.

Now: home James! And don't spare the horses!
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by DrPrincess » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:05 am

Thanks for this, Spatch. I'm currently going through the imposter syndrome thing all on my little own. I have my offer letter on our fridge so I can remind myself. And I remind myself of all the things I've successfully completed in the past with hard work and effort. I think this is a useful thread for up-coming trainees because I think as well as feeling pleased/happy/overjoyed or whatever, I think it's natural to feel apprehensive/"can I do this?"/it was a fluke etc. Perhaps it's just me because it's fair to say I've been back and forth with the idea of training! Anyway, thank you for posting, and for the other trainees who have contributed.

DrP

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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by MyMytiger » Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:33 pm

I'm having a bit of a hard time thinking of the people I'm leaving behind as well as an impending long distance relationship with my partner whilst on the doctorate. Your post reminded me that potentially lots of people are going through similar things.

Thanks Spatch x

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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by Gilly » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:43 am

Thank you for this thread Spatch - point 2 especially, one of the first thing I did upon hearing was to phone an old supervisor to tell him the good news! I've sent emails to old friends and supervisors and lecturers who supported me through - because I know for a fact I wouldn't have got anywhere without a few lucky breaks and people giving me a chance!

I think at this point again I'd like to thank everyone on the forum for their help, not only Miriam, Ruthie and Spatch who have been sometimes saint-like in their patience for me with all their help, but also to all my peers on here who have not only been there through the good times, but have been there through the bad, and its because of you lot that THIS now exists:

Image

My course starts in October, so I'm having September off to relax, finally read some of the books i've been putting off and spend time with my friends and family before heading off!

I keep going through moments where I suddenly realise that i'm going to be a trainee, before then having a sinking "woah" moment at the thought of it all, but so far I've not hit imposter syndrome yet.

And MyMyTiger - if it helps at all, i'm going to be doing the same thing, so you're definitely not alone.
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by Toria » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:21 am

Gilly, your mug has made my morning! :D
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by bex4010 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:03 am

Toria wrote:Gilly, your mug has made my morning! :D
I agree Toria! It is great!

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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by schizometric » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:31 pm

I can relate to a lot of this. I made the fatal mistake of only taking 2-3 days off between finishing work and starting training. I'd definitely recommend taking at least a week or two, and seriously enjoying your evenings and weekends ;)

Agree with epy about one for those about to qualify, that'd be excellent :)
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by astra » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:10 pm

jane doe wrote:Some days I'd give anything just to spend a day back in the Golden Summer... 8)
Similar to that magical time at the end of training when you've handed in the thesispassed the viva, sorted out a job, and relaaaaaaax. I'd also give anything to spend a day back in that summer too! :D
What she said!

You can all enjoy the fact that you've made it to training and your job is budgeted for a 3 year contract. Whatever else happens you have a well paid job for the next 3 years. There are not many people around with that kind of certainty at the moment!
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by AlexLK » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:31 pm

Thank you Spatch for the advice, its good to put things in perspective. I spent a long time on the phone after THE CALL thanking everyone along my journey so far, definately has not been a lone job. I don't need to be told twice to relax, do nada and read trashy novels all summer long! Though very tempting to buy new stationery just because I can so that'll be my preparation!

Gilly I have mug envy!!!
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Re: Spatch's guide for those of you about to start training

Post by Borscht » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:15 pm

Just found this - it's awesome! Thanks Spatch.

:)

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