Health Education England

Thinking of hosting a Graduate Management Trainee?

Trainees are selected and recruited for their potential as leaders and their passion for improving patient care.  They offer a fresh perspective, an inquisitive and open mind and a willingness to take on new challenges.

Below is the structure of placements for specialisms:

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Past trainee profiles

Katherine, Finance Graduate Trainee from 2014 Intake

First Placement- Norfolk Community Health and Care

Flexi Placement- Ernst and Young

Final Placement- East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

I chose to apply to the GMTS because I really wanted to work for an organisation that makes a difference to people’s lives. The values of the NHS align closely with my own and having witnessed the incredible work that the NHS do through the experience of my friends and family I knew it was an organisation I would like to work for. The GMTS is a highly respected graduate scheme and provides the opportunity to fast track your career. I chose the finance specialism because I’m very numerical and wanted the opportunity to study to become a Chartered Public Finance Accountant. Working in finance for the NHS you get to experience the balance between quality of service and financial sustainability which I find very interesting.

The highlight of my placements has definitely been the wide range of roles that I have experienced. These have included being responsible for the finances of a directorate in management accounts, experience with the patient level costing and service line reporting team  and also working with commissioners in an income role. This has given me a broad experience of NHS finance and also enabled me to have a detailed understanding of how funding flows through the NHS. On my flexi placement I even got the opportunity to experience working in the private sector as a healthcare consultant for Ernst and Young, delivering over £100k of savings through working on the outpatient work stream of a financial improvement project. Having not come from an accounting background I have developed a wealth of finance skills and have also further developed my people management and project management skills. A recent highlight was working on a project to improve the productivity of the Urology Department and being invited by a clinician I was working with to observe a robotic operation. Being able to see how the financial project I was working on directly impacted patient care was fantastic. Whilst trying to balance work placements with the study commitments of the scheme can be challenging , the scheme offers an excellent study support package. Passing my final exams and becoming a chartered accountant  was another scheme highlight.

I am shortly going into my first post scheme role at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust where I will be Divisional Financial Analyst for the Women and Children’s Division. The scheme provided lots of support to enable me to secure this role, with a mentoring system and a career development day where we got the opportunity to hear from graduate scheme alumni and perform practice interviews. The varied experience I have gained through my placements on the graduate scheme, networking opportunities and CIPFA qualification have provided a great starting point for my post scheme career. Being able to try lots of different areas of NHS finance have given me the opportunity to see where my strengths and weaknesses lie, and secure a role I am confident I will enjoy and continue to learn from.

Catherine, General Management Graduate Trainee from 2012 Intake

"Straight out of school I got a job in an Advertising agency, and was doing OK there until the recession took hold and I realised I needed to get a degree to go further. While continuing my work at the agency I studied for an undergraduate degree in Sociology at the nearby London Metropolitan University. When I was about to enter my final year I realised that the job I had in the agency was just a job, and not a passion.

I looked around for alternatives and nothing got me excited until someone I knew asked me if I’d heard of the NHS GMTS. By the next morning I had checked it out, decided it was the route for me and arranged to spend some time doing work experience in the trust where my Dad works in North Wales. I was so amazed by how big and complicated everything was, and in awe of the experienced managers I got to shadow who told me about their really varied career paths and the difference they had made in all aspects of patient care. Being honest, I also met some people that really didn’t inspire me, but I’ve since found that it takes all sorts of people to deliver excellent care, including people that do the bits I don’t like.

The application process was very rigorous; at each stage I noticed the calibre of competition increasing. I didn’t actually get on the scheme straight away; I was put on a reserve list. I was gutted when I found out I hadn’t got on, but I was fourth on the waiting list and it made the news so much better when I found out I had a place, which happened on my birthday.

Like many other prospective trainees, I had been hoping to get placed in London. In retrospect, I am so happy to have been put in the East of England, we had such a fun cohort of trainees, and being in a “real” district general hospital gave me great opportunities to manage things at a pretty senior level. The first few weeks were spent doing a different job in a different part of the trust every day and was the most fun few weeks ever, although very tiring.  If I hadn’t spent a day with Kev the porter from AAU or Iris, the ward’s housekeeper, I would never have been able to find all the shortcuts through the hospitals. I must admit to fainting while watching surgery, and not being able to keep a straight face when a small boy arrived into A&E with a splinter in his bottom. I have learnt so much since then, but those few weeks were such an eye-opener and the biggest, fastest learning curve I’ve ever had.

I worked in the Acute Medical Care Division at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, managing Cardiology Services. Julie, the Assistant Divisional Manager who had been in charge was soon to retire, and there would be a period where I would bridge the gap between her and the new person. I was a sponge and soon learnt from Julie how to manage outpatient operations, performance against access targets, dealing with complaints, recruitment, managing staff absence, appraisals, report writing, service developments, and most importantly, how to have a great relationship with Doctors (although I haven’t always had the knack for it that she had). In her retirement speech she said how nice it was to be able to pass on the baton to the next generation. 

I loved that every day was different at work, and the best learning I got was from managing when things went wrong. I learnt as much how not to do things as how to. My most important lessons were:

  • When things go wrong, don’t be too proud or scared to ask for help
  • Trust your gut, if you think something isn’t right, then it isn’t
  • There’s no such thing as too much communication, especially with people affected by change, even if all you’re saying is “I have no idea what’s going on”
  • If you can get a doctor or a nurse to help you, things will work better
  • You’ll surprise yourself by how many things you can do that you thought were outside of your comfort zone
  • Always gel your hands, always take off your watch/rings, always lock your computer
  • Never apologise for being a trainee – everyone starts somewhere

Juggling work and education wasn’t new to me, but the pressure of the job really was. I had stacks of support from anyone who I asked, including the East of England team, but most importantly I had an amazing placement manager (who also used to be a trainee).  She always pushed me a little bit out of my comfort zone, but never too far, she coached me to develop my resilience to the inevitable knock backs and always offered sensible advice which I still follow. 

My Flexi placement took me to the local council where I got to look at Health from a different angle. I worked on the community transport project, which was to improve access to health services for members of the community who were unable to use conventional modes of transport. I also helped out with the local Older People’s forum, and assisted in a project to establish a local food bank. It was such a different environment, and I learnt some really interesting things there too.

  • Know the difference between politics and Politics
  • Even the littlest things are big things to someone (like a bench on the high street, I don’t really have an opinion, but I met some people that really did)

My final placement was working in the Transformation Team at Hertfordshire Partnership. I was doing project management which was fun. It was a very different environment from the Hospital, and I spent a lot of time driving between locations across Hertfordshire. I was working on a project to introduce Recovery Care Pathways to Community Mental Health Teams, as well as project managing their new high-spec Learning and Development Centre in Hatfield. Working day to day with colleagues from such a broad range of disciplines was a real eye-opener again and it reminded me that while we all have the best interests of patients at heart, we have very different points of view on how to go about achieving that. 

I’m the Grad Scheme’s biggest fan; it has completely changed my life (for the better). That said; it is not for the faint-hearted. It is a big commitment to a demanding career and lifestyle. You can probably do it half-heartedly, but if you really want to get the most out of the opportunity, you really need to make that commitment.

I left the scheme a bit early because I got offered an amazing opportunity to work in a London Teaching Hospital which I would have been bonkers to give up. The lessons I learnt on the scheme still come in handy every day."

Adam, HR Graduate Trainee from 2012 Intake

"I left the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme four years ago.  Having completed my MA Human Resource Management as part of the scheme, I have since been awarded Chartered Member status of the CIPD, which is a testament to the work that I have done on the Scheme and in the 12 months thereafter.  I’ve been fortunate to have a great mentor and the support of the team at Health Education East of England, and I’m grateful to the support that they have given me on my journey. I’m now working as the Nurse Recruitment Manager at Gloucestershire Hospitals, and I am responsible for national and international recruitment strategy.  My job takes me to different cities and countries, and is something that I’m relishing - especially having came from a physical geography background before the Graduate Scheme. My ultimate ambition is to find a great organisation with a clear vision, and values that match my own, so that I can add value to the local healthcare economy.  

When I started the Graduate Scheme, I was naive in thinking that I would have to be working at Board level to achieve this but in an organisation that utilises the value of networking and disregards the traditional hierarchy, you can achieve this at any level. I hope my next role will be a wider resourcing position that combines traditional HR Business Partnering with the expertise of a recruitment specialist.  My top tip for any current trainee, or recent graduate, would be to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity, get yourself a great mentor (and make sure you know what you want from them!), and make sure you’re marketing yourself to prospective employers on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other networking channels."

Kate, General Management Trainee, 2015 Intake

During my final year of studying for a degree in Human Biology at Loughborough University, I began thinking about what I wanted to do after graduating. I had always been really interested in medicine, and after doing lots of research and various work experience (in addition to being a patient myself in a number of different hospitals over the years) I decided I wanted to be involved in healthcare in some way. I saw the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme advertised through the University Careers Service and immediately knew that this was something I wanted to apply to; I didn’t want a job in a corporate organisation that was driven by profits, and hoped that this scheme would allow me to develop a career that ultimately makes a difference to peoples’ lives.

Luckily I got the call in April to say that my application had been successful and I had gained a place on the scheme in the East of England region. My first placement was at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, where I joined the management team in the Medicine division. As I was still finding my feet and learning the fundamentals of NHS management, I initially began by supporting the business managers in the management of the medical specialties. By January I was acting as an interim service manager for the transcription service, which was a very steep learning curve but allowed me to develop an array of vital management skills, such as budget management and recruitment processes, whilst still being well supported in a learning environment. 

I then did a 2-month flexi-placement at Keech Hospice, where I completed a project to identify how to improve the period of transition that young people go through after being discharged from the children’s hospice at the age of 19. This placement gave me a great insight into palliative care and children’s services, which I previously hadn’t had any exposure to. I was also able to develop my skills in project planning, implementation, and evaluation, which have been invaluable in all the projects I have been involved with since.

My final placement was at Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust. In this placement I was given the opportunity to lead on the development of the Trust’s ‘Physical Health Strategy’, which involved lots of staff, service user, and carer engagement. I was able to see the strategy through from initial conception to sign-off by the Board, which was definitely a highlight of my time on the scheme. In addition to this, I joined the Trust at a time when the Sustainability and Transformation Plans were just beginning to be implemented, which gave me opportunities to be involved in exciting system-wide integration developments.

My experiences on the scheme made me realise that operational management in the fast-paced environment of an Acute Trust is what I enjoy the most, which led me to apply for an Emergency Department Service Manager role at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.  My application was fortunately successful and I am excited to start my new role as a service manager in May 2017.

The application process gave me a chance to look back and reflect on everything I had learnt and achieved on the graduate scheme, and made me realise just how fortunate I am to have been an NHS graduate trainee. Throughout the scheme I was incredibly well supported by my placement managers, programme manager, and the leadership academy, all of whom taught me invaluable lessons and gave me unique opportunities that I would otherwise never have had access to. Further to this, I have developed lasting friendships with my fellow East of England trainees who have been a fantastic support network over the last 2 years.

Minal, Finance Graduate Trainee from 2009 Intake

Minal had her first placement in financial accounts at West Herts Hospital Trust. She undertook her second placement in management accounts at the same Trust.

"I graduated from university in 2007 with a degree in Business Economics. During my final year and afterwards, I was in search of a graduate scheme which was challenging, interesting and supportive. After having explored many options, I came across the NHS Graduate Management Scheme through the Times Top 100 and decided to apply.There are 4 streams to pick from: Finance, HR, Informatics and General Management. I chose to apply for the Finance route as it was more linked with my degree and was always what I wanted to pursue. Then came the application stage! Firstly there is an online application form to fill in, followed by a face to face interview with a senior NHS manager/director and finally a 24-hour Leadership Challenge! It all sounds scary - the scheme is very competitive as from 11,000 or so that applied only around 240 were offered a position, so it is a great privilege to be here.

The first 40 days of the placement involve an orientation and this is the highlight of the scheme (so far). Here you will get to see different departments in the NHS and do things which you would not normally in your day to day job. Some of the things I did on my orientation were:

  • A day out with the ambulance crew attending 999 calls.
  • Visiting the mental health hospital sites
  • Observing a bowel operation
  • Spending a whole day with Pathology, and more.

I spent my first six months in Financial Accounting which was invaluable and a perfect place to start off in, as you are able to get a thorough understanding of the Accounts Payable and Receivable functions and also how the finance systems work. The next two months I spent with RSM Tenon; West Herts Hospital’s Internal Auditors. They were based in Milton Keynes and gave me a sound experience of what auditors actually do and what they look for in accounts. I am currently working in management accounts, assisting in looking after Corporate and Women’s and Children’s division. This has been exciting but also challenging, as there is lots to learn and quickly as the information is fed back to the Board. Not only does the scheme offer support in terms of training and conferences, but the support given to students studying for their CIMA qualification is excellent with day release every week per module and then blocks of revision to help through to the exam stage."

Judith, General Management Graduate Trainee from 2009 Intake

Judith undertook her first placement in operational management at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and undertook her flexi placement at the Central Office of Information, before undertaking her final strategic placement at NHS Hertfordshire.

"Whilst studying for a History degree from the University of York, I researched potential career options and developed an interest in NHS management. After shadowing a senior manager over a five week period, I realised that the challenges and variety of the work was exactly what I was looking for. After graduating in the summer of 2008, I started working on a temporary basis at the Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as a Medical Secretary for the Gastroenterology and Metabolic Bone Disease Teams. I then applied for a permanent role as a Project Support Manager working on a theatre efficiency project within the Surgical Directorate. In this role I performance managed a surgical specialty to meet the 18 week government access target and developed ways of reducing waste and improving the use of the theatre facilities. During this time I applied for the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme (General Management Specialism) and made it through the online testing, interview and 24 hour leadership challenge. I was offered a place on the scheme within the East of England SHA at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The first 40 days of the scheme involved an 'orientation' to the NHS. Here I had the opportunity to learn about the different services available for patients and the variety of professional roles within the NHS. I spent a day with an ambulance crew responding to 999 calls, a day with a physiotherapist, observed in an operating theatre, spent time with nursing staff on the wards and shadowed a number of senior managers.

For my operational placement I was based in the medical division. Here I was responsible for developing good quality and activity performance data to present to the divisional board on a monthly basis, assisted in the production of the Trust's Quality Account, and worked on a project to understand and reduce the delays in transferring patients between health and social care. The project I found the most rewarding arose in response to the NHS contract which stipulated that from April 2010, GPs need to receive a copy of patient discharge summary within 24 hours from the point of patient discharge. Discharge summaries had in the past been sent via Royal Mail, and therefore a new process was needed in order to ensure the target was achieved for the Acute Admissions Unit (AAU). A project group was established, with myself as project lead, to devise a new process whereby discharge summaries could be sent electronically via NHS.net email.

The key milestones were:

  • Map the current process and identify issues;
  • Meet with key stakeholders to design a new process;
  • Ensure staff training and resources in place to launch the new process;
  • Communication of new process to medical and administrative staff;
  • Roll out of new process;
  • Review of new process.

The project was successful, and discharge summaries from the AAU are now being sent electronically, and within the 24 hour target. Advice and support was always available whenever I needed it from my placement and programme manager and also from my buddy, a general management trainee that was in the previous year's intake. At times I have found my work incredibly frustrating and have needed to develop the resilience to cope with setbacks during projects, and good time management has been necessary to balance my placement with my university education commitments. However, the scheme is a fantastic opportunity that I would recommend to anyone who is passionate about doing a job that is challenging, rewarding and fast paced, and that actually makes a difference to the NHS services that patients experience."

Amy, Informatics Graduate Trainee from 2009 Intake

"During my A-levels and through my degree I worked part-time at Milton Keynes Hospital as a domestic supervisor. When I finished my degree I wanted to continue working in the NHS. I found the graduate management training scheme by chance while looking for graduate scheme on the internet. After some research I found it was on the Times Top 100. There are 4 streams to pick from: Finance, HR, Informatics and General Management. I applied for informatics because it is a new and challenging field. I felt that I would have a chance to gain new skills and work in an area that is still developing.

The application process started with an online application form which was followed by online tests. Once I had got though that there was a face to face interview with a senior NHS staff. The final and I believe the most interesting part of the application process was the Leadership Challenge. This was an experience that has taught me so much about how I work under pressure and how I work with others. This looks like a long and difficult process at first glance, but it is a very competitive process and I am very glad to have got to where I am. The first placement starts with 40 days of orientation; this is an excellence experience and gives trainees the opportunity to really explore all the roles within the NHS. During orientation I got to experience the following - this is just a small selection of what I did:

  • A day on the ambulance (this was a 12 hour day with 20mins break, but the best thing I did)
  • Shadow an executive for the day (this was very interesting and meant that I got to observe high level meetings.)
  • Spent a day in a operating theatre (this is not for the faint hearted, the surgical team where amazing and really interested in explaining everything throughout the day)
  • Spent a day with the porters (this is a great way to get to know a hospital, the porters know every back route thought the building and do so much, from taking a patient to where they need to go to delivering blood products for transfusion.) 

My first placement started in IT and expanded into a split between IT and information to meet all of my competencies. This was an interesting and exciting place to start and the two departments gave a great comparison. I developed project management and people management skills in IT, while in information I gained skills in information analysis. I undertook my flexi-placement at QIE working on a project with benchmarking data. It has been challenging and interesting and I gained new skills every day, especially with Excel. The scheme offers support in the way of training and conferences, and during these activities the scheme gives the trainees the opportunity to build networks. These networks are a good support structure."

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