Just like the first two years of uni, my time on placement has flown by! Suddenly I only have 2 weeks left and a huge summer in front of me 🙂 Before I get too excited about that though I’m keen to make the most of the rest of my time on placement, and it’s made me reflect on the time so far!
Be annoying- send that double email
I have become SO annoying this year and should probably be a lot more embarrassed about it than I currently am. If someone mentions an opportunity to you in passing, follow it up with an email. If you don’t hear back within a few days/weeks then email again! They’re not going to be ignoring you deliberately, they’re just busy!
Sadly, many people are stretched with unmanageable workloads and they can’t prioritise you even if they want to. So you need to remind them that you’re keen and interested, and give them your availability. Your timetable is likely to be a lot more flexible than theirs which is ideal for allowing you to get experience in areas you might not have even considered!
Be as flexible as possible
Most weeks I did my hours over Monday-Thursday to have Friday free to work at my waitressing job. However; my supervisor pointed out one week that he would be doing a lot of patient work which I could shadow on the Friday morning. I really wanted to go to this and luckily my shift wasn’t until the afternoon, and so I was able to come in on my morning off to do this shadowing which was a really interesting and valuable experience.
Obviously, you need to have boundaries, and ensure that you’re not overworking yourself, but equally as nice as a Friday morning off is I’d rather have interesting and varied experiences instead!
I also tried to be as flexible as possible when working with different professionals. They would ask what days/times suited me but I'd often suggest we worked to their calendar as I was able to move things around and do work independently. This made sorting things a lot easier!
Keep up with uni work/opportunities
One of my favourite parts of placement was being able to come home after a day in the office and relax without feeling guilty for not working on a deadline... until now! We had a few smaller assignments at the start of the year, and now a big May deadline which is a placement reflective report and research proposal.
I have started early to ensure I’m not rushing at the end and getting stressed, so taking half an hour to an hour a few nights a week has made it seem much more manageable than spending a few painfully long days in the library closer to the deadline.
Equally, make sure to keep up with opportunities going on at the university, especially for next year. Committee elections happen in March/April, applications for fresher’s week captains are due at a similar time, housing in Bath is notoriously competitive, and at some point you will need to choose your final year modules.
Logging onto your university email or checking in with friends regularly to check when things in is a good way of making sure you don’t miss out on anything
Check that you’re achieving your aims!
I set a few aims at the start of my placement, but by about half way realised that a couple were far too generic or had been achieved. One of my aims, for example, was simply to experience an inpatient hospital environment. Obviously spending 900 hours on placement in one made achieving this aim pretty inevitable!
Subsequently I used a supervision to amend my aims and refocus with my supervisor how I could best spend the remainder of my placement. Having clear goals and experiences in mind which I wanted to achieve made it much easier!
Get a good work/life balance!
Check that your workload is manageable and stretching you without making you too stressed. If it’s not, speak to your supervisor about it. I’m a fast worker and I LOVE to be busy. I think it confused my supervisor a bit at the start as I can’t just relax and constantly wanted more and more tasks. Sometimes he asks me even now “when are you going to have time to do that?” but I like to keep busy or I get bored.
However; everyone is different! If you’re being set an amount of tasks which is making you stressed, let your supervisor know. Ask to extend deadlines, or delegate tasks. Try to keep organised with a diary or reminders on your phone calendar. If your supervisor is still giving you too much work, speak to the placement adviser back at Bath for your course for their advice. Don’t just struggle through it or you’ll just end up stressed!
I hope these tips help to ensure you make the most on placement 🙂 A lot of people advise you to take every opportunity that you can, and whilst I think this is important to an extent and that it’s great to keep an open mind, also don’t be afraid to (POLITELY) decline tasks if you’re unsure if you have the time/if it will be feasible.
If you’re asked to travel somewhere far away regularly for an opportunity which you don’t think will be very beneficial, see if you can compromise and go once. It’s good to get as much experience as possible but equally there is no point in wasting your time! Make sure you're getting what YOU want out of your placement!
I’ve had such an interesting and varied placement experience and I hope you can have the same! 🙂