Thanks to the Academy I’ve grown and learnt so much this past year

On International Youth Day (Friday 12 August), Sheffield Hallam University student, Amy Rushforth talks about how much she’s grown and what she’s learnt on her year long placement with the NHS Leadership Academy.

Last year I made the decision to take a year out from studying at Sheffield Hallam University and spend time working in industry. And I’m glad I did.

When I applied for my role with the marketing and engagement team, I saw something which really struck a chord. The advert read, ‘better leadership leads to better patient care, experience and outcomes.’ After experiencing some very cold interactions with NHS staff in the past, this statement particularly resonated with me.

The NHS is an institution that most people are extremely passionate about, myself included. So when I was offered the marketing and communications placement at the NHS Leadership Academy, I was over the moon.

As a self-professed introvert, I can honestly say that working for the NHS has allowed me to overcome my shyness. As a child I really struggled with communicating with others which led to selective mutism (prevented me speaking in certain social situations). It’s hard to believe that now I can talk passionately about leadership and healthcare with complete strangers. It’s something my entire family has commented on, not just my increased confidence but my entire outlook on life is much more thought-through. This stems from working with some very driven people – I am so grateful for their skills, knowledge and attitude which I have been so lucky to learn from over these past 12 months.

Within a few weeks of joining the Academy, it was clear to me that I had made the right choice to take a year out from studying. Events, social media, filming and email marketing were all things I was heavily involved in. I have to admit, a part of me questioned whether I was the right person to take on such an influential role. After all, giving a twenty year old complete access to a network of over thirty thousand twitter followers demands a huge level of trust. However, I’m an advocate of ‘on the job’ training, and in turn, my confidence and my quality of work improved dramatically.

My marketing knowledge is one of the key areas I’ve improved on. The practical implementation of direct mailing and designing email templates is something that can’t be taught in a text book. My design skills have allowed me to produce pieces of work I’m extremely proud of, such as info-graphics, gifs, brochures and email campaigns. I was given lots of opportunity to develop my skills further. I’ve learnt so much about myself and built valuable relationships.

I’m very much your typical northern girl, and before I started my placement, I’d rarely leave Yorkshire, so opportunities to travel and meet patients and colleagues working in health and care were very exciting. Throughout the year, I’ve played a fundamental part in organising and delivering national events such as the NHS National Recognition Awards, working on the Academy’s programme graduations and attending various conferences. This has taken me from Brighton to Glasgow, meeting hundreds of people passionate about the NHS.

My time here has given me clarity to plan my career aspirations, which so many young people struggle to define. I now know that marketing and communications is where I want to develop my career and I can now plan the steps I need to take to make this a reality.

The NHS Leadership Academy is a vibrant and fast paced environment to work in. The culture of the Academy is extremely positive and I feel exceptionally lucky to have worked with such passionate and caring people. The skills, knowledge and confidence I’ve gained over the past year have been invaluable, but the friendships I’ve built with colleagues will be the most significant gain over my time here. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the NHS Leadership Academy for making me feel valued and part of a team.

Finally, I’m exceedingly proud of the work the Academy is doing to strengthen leadership in the health service. Hearing the positive difference that the Academy’s programme participants have made is fantastic to hear. The effect it has had on patients as a result, makes me feel incredibly fulfilled and confident about the future of our health service.

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