The trials and tribulations of an up and coming clinical psychologist in the modern day NHS

I will start by apologising for the title; the NHS is in no way modern. In addition I am not quite an up and coming clinical psychologist, yet. Rather I am amongst the hundreds of thousands in England desperately trying to achieve a place on the notoriously difficult Clinical Psychology Doctorate, working above and beyond for a third rate salary whilst the NHS exploit this influx of ambitious and willing Psychology graduates. More on that later.
Firstly to the up and coming clinical psychologist part; aspiring rather. It was a decision made perhaps somewhat naively at the age of eighteen as I wanted to help people and work in a rewarding atmosphere. I wanted to provide this help without actually touching anyone and observations of behaviour was always something I was rather intuitive towards, hence psychology seemed perfect. I shan’t deny that psychology will always be my first love and I have no intention of being anything short of an aspiring clinical psychologist for the mean time. The reality of transitioning from an aspiring to up and coming to actually becoming a clinical psychologist isn’t quite as romantic as the dream, some may even say delusion, of it.
I will go on to tell you a little story, a story of my first foot in the vast ocean of British mental health, the difficulty of avoiding drowning even for the most appt. swimmers and the surrounding sharks i.e. that modern day NHS I mentioned earlier.
It started a year earlier, some months after graduating from a BSc honours in Psychology. Those some months were tough, not quite the; complete degree, work in the field of mental health, gain position on a Clinical doctorate and all in a “suitable” time period of two years, that I had in mind. My first downfall was the fatal mistake of graduating with a 2.2. I was classed this not due to a lack of intelligence or comprehension of the literature, rather it was a lack of trying and that old friend of students around Britain; procrastination. The graduate jobs demanded a 2.1 classification and my 2.2 short by one percentage would not suffice. Support worker jobs demanded two years’ worth of experience and then some…I was at university those two years. I learnt many lessons, don’t go out the Friday before exams, spend those weekends at the cinema gaining experience at a care home instead, don’t leave referencing until the hour before the due date and time. Lessons implemented; nil.
I was lucky managing to sweet talk my way in to an honorary assistant psychologist position through some contacts at a local hospital. What an ironic title, “honorary”, I will come and provide my services to you and do the boring administration duties but somehow I am the one that is honoured. I will not be an ingrate however; I learnt a lot from this position (mainly unpaid work does not motivate me particularly when old habits fuelled by the lazy bug die hard) and I managed to acquire my first paid job in mental health of the back of that particular experience.
I came off the reserve list and into my first real job after many applications made and rejected. It was for a job post made up by a rather business savvy manager at the top who saw the major benefits in putting to use the hundreds of intelligent but unfortunately jobless graduates at a fraction of what they would have had to pay the so called qualified staff. The vast benefit being obviously monetary.
Alongside the job role and much needed experience in mental health a Post Graduate Certificate was also being paid for and how I lucked out, or so I thought. It was a shame the intelligence to utilise the hordes of willing graduates did not stretch to actually organising something efficient and for the large part communicating effectively. Not much of a surprise, the NHS have failed on much worse, than satisfying what should be according to an anal control freak “I could do it better recent” graduate (me by the way), due to major failings in communications. For some odd reason speaking whether verbally or digitally has always seemed such a task to the NHS, it’s a simple case of semantics really. Perhaps English isn’t as much of a useless degree as many presume for a reason I can’t quite ascertain.
The job title was graduate mental health worker, meaning no more than a worker in mental health whom is a graduate. The ambiguity of any specifics relating to the job title or even job description worked greatly in the favour of the employing Trusts, allowing them to manoeuvre the job description as they please and throw in ridiculous compulsory tasks and make up policies as the course progressed. All us employees could do was huff and puff with the house of the NHS top managers remaining intact. They chose good bricks and mortar I’m guessing…

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