On the first day of my secondment with Public Health England (PHE) working as project lead with the newborn blood spot (NBS) programme I walked through the door and was confronted by a large open plan office with a sea of computer screens and faces. I had worked in hospitals for over 20 years and this was more like a trading floor.
What am I doing here I wondered?
I had moved from being a midwife to a project lead and from local screening to a national programme.
I was presented with a personal laptop and then had to navigate docking stations, double screens and working remotely. I had not even heard of a docking station before.
If that wasn’t daunting enough, I no longer had a phone and had to figure out how to use Skype for the first time.
There was also a new language to learn. What is a HTML, SAB, SMT, SDG, SMG, SIT, SIL, SIM, ISF, JAM, IEPP? The list went on and on.
By the end of my first day I was bewildered. Why did I think I could do this job I asked myself?
Steep learning curve
But everyone was lovely. Colleagues were so welcoming, kind and friendly. People I had not met emailed offering support. Colleagues patiently explained all the IT stuff.
Before I knew it, I was managing telephone conferences using Skype, learning board meeting etiquette, writing papers and most importantly I was able to decipher what what all the acronyms stood for.
It has been my steepest learning curve since I was a newly qualified midwife.
Having said that I had more project management experience and skills than I realised. As an antenatal and newborn (ANNB) screening coordinator, project management is our bread and butter but we don’t call it that. Every year ANNB screening changes, develops and expands. ANNB screening coordinators implement these changes locally, coordinate data submissions and collate reports all of which involves project management. We do this alongside providing clinical care.
My time at PHE has been amazing but my secondment is over and it’s time to return to the NHS.
I have thrived on learning new things every day, constantly being challenged and developing a wide range of new skills. I've had the chance to positively influence many things. I am particularly proud of the new NBS e-learning units, programme handbook and my newly learned blogging skills, including one about repeat NBS information.
Now I know the workings of the NBS screening programme in depth and have a better understanding of how all national screening programmes operate. All of this will help me as a screening coordinator.
If you get a chance to work with PHE, go for it. Don’t underestimate your skills and knowledge. They really are transferable.
So goodbye PHE, I will miss you. Thank you for everything. I really hope to see you again.
Hello, my old friend the NHS, I’m back and raring to go.
Christine Cavanagh, Programme Manager for the NHS Newborn Blood Spot Screening Programme, said:
It has been a huge asset to the team to have Kate join us on secondment. Her experience and knowledge has been invaluable in developing resources for health professionals. I would welcome others to take the opportunity to join screening programmes and influence how they can be shaped.
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