Year in Review

I write this on my second-to-last day as a trainee in Torquay. Reflecting on my time here, I cannot believe  how quick it’s all been and how much I’ve managed to learn in such a short time.

In my final weeks I’ve been working on our Summer Entertainment Campaign, where I get to deliver fiction (books or DVDs) directly to our users at work. It’s a good excuse to explore the hospital and a fun way to increase membership. As part of this project, I have also created some web pages to promote our health and well-being collection. After graduating with a undergraduate psychology degree and a specialty in fiction/reading, I find myself drawn to working with our non-clinical and mood boosting collections in particular. To deepen my understanding of the impact reading and fiction can have on well-being, I also enrolled in a MOOC about literature and mental health earlier this year. I really appreciated the support I had from my team to pursue my interests with CPD.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a library traineeship without reflecting on smaller jobs such as book stamping, form processing and answering those all-important questions on the help desk – a.k.a. “where is the cafe” and “can I park my car here.” (Why must NHS parking be so challenging??) In all seriousness, because our team is quite small, I started working almost immediately and have been able to dip into loads of projects. I’ve processed new books and journals, answered and requested inter-library loans, and even helped complete a journal weed. We’ve also been developing marketing strategies, and to help sell the library to the rest of the hospital I’ve been creating presentations and animated videos. I’ve even been on the wards, getting to meet clinical staff and see the hospital “in-action.” No doubt one of the benefits of working in a health library is the variety!

Besides work, I’ve also really enjoyed exploring Devon. While the rain did take some getting used to, I’ve managed to spend a lot of time walking on the moor, meeting alpacas and even tortoise racing. Making friends post-university was a challenge, but everyone here has been lovely and joining teams and classes (candle making and netball anyone??) has really helped.

On my first day of work Lucy and Tim got out a tape measure to check if the computer monitor was the appropriate distance from my face. I remember emailing a friend saying “what have I got myself into.” Almost a year of NHS health and safety policy later, I feel comfortable and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been gifted. I’ve visited libraries all over the country, learned about catheters with nurses, gone to a library Christmas meeting and much, much more. With some sadness, I am ready to close this chapter and leave Devon. Thank you to everyone who has hosted me and helped me over the last year. Good luck, and I hope the next Torbay graduate trainee provides you with as least as many snacks as I did!

Critical Care Presentations

After seeing students come in and out of the library everyday, it was nice to be invited to their end of year presentations. For each set of presentations a librarian gets invited to help mark and this time I was free to shadow the whole 1/2 day event.

On this course, each student wrote an essay/made a presentation about a “Mr. Brown,” a case study of a patient that died in hospital due to a number of (human) errors. This is especially relevant in the context of the last few weeks, as there was a national inquiry over the death of a 3 year old from our trust.

  1. Report:
  2. Recent updates:

Each student presented a different aspect of “Mr.Brown’s” treatment, including the importance of communication and the use of different drugs. It was very interesting, and good to see a tangible result of our work here in the library. It’s also nice to see the NHS prioritize continuing education, as everyone on this course was a practicing clinical staff member (from nurses to those in anesthesiology).

One Month In…

Yesterday marked the end of my first month at TSDFT. Since my last blog post I have:

  • Completed hospital induction with over 100 other new clinical and non-clinical trust staff. Some highlights of this two day affair included: a 30 minute presentation on hand washing, multiple tea breaks, and learning how to lift boxes.
  • Gone on a 2.5hr tour of the wards, thus getting to meet clinical staff and see the hospital “in-action.” This was very informative, as it helped contextualize my work. Also my manager is thinking about conducting short database tutorials on the wards, and so it was important to see which departments were interested in this scheme.
  • Learned the difference between a healthcare assistant, trainee assistant practitioner, staff nurse, senior sister, matron…phew!
  • Conducted a journal weed, which includes throwing away 6 months of our journal holdings. This is important because as a medical library, we are ethically bound to only show the most recent (a.k.a. last 5 years) of research. Also, to be honest, we just did not have the shelf space.
  • Started hiking with the Devon Bootlegs. So far I’ve been to Dartmoor, which is really stunning. I even saw some dartmoor ponies.
Lustleigh Village
Dartmoor Ponies
  • Started to learn more about literature searches and the healthcare databases that we offer. The MOOC is helping a lot.
  • Updated the management catalogue. In our library we use the SWIMS catalogue to keep track of everything from users to journal holdings. This has to be updated constantly: adding new library members, deleting those who have expired, updating new books, and so forth.
  • Going through a retiring psychologist’s donated books to see which ones were still relevant and could be added to the library’s collection (after a while of searching it became abundantly clear that none of the books were younger than me…even if I added an extra 10/20 years to my age).
  • Been introduced to CQC (Ofsted for hospitals). They’re coming for inspections in February, and while the library is not a top-priority (we’re not sure if they’ll come to speak to us directly), we’ve still started to compile an evidence-base to show we’ve met their standards.
  • Joined a netball team. We meet every Tuesday, and go workout at a local gym a couple of times a week (optional of course!).
  • Booked train tickets for a weekend in London.

…and that just scratches the surface! It’s been incredibly busy, but I’m still so glad this is where I ended up. I’m learning a lot about healthcare libraries, and even made some friends.

Week One

I just finished my first week of work, and let me tell you, it has been a blur! I can’t believe how much has happened.

My official title is “Graduate Library Trainee,” and I’m working for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (library homepage). The library is located next to Torbay Hospital’s Horizon Centre, but it also provides services for community partners/organizations within this trust that aren’t the hospital. According to the trust’s website

The Trust runs Torbay Hospital, nine community hospitals and provides health and social care in Dawlish, Teignmouth, Totnes, Dartmouth, Torbay, Newton Abbot, Ashburton, Bovey Tracey and the surrounding area.

This week acted as a crash course in library work. There are four people in my department, and the library manager also just started. On Monday we signed paperwork (lots of it), and went on a tour of the hospital (even getting to see where the hospital helicopters land!). I had only been to the library and horizon centre for my interview, and didn’t realize how big the hospital is. Here is a map.

One of the strangest moments of training happened when completing health and safety checks. Here we were required to measure (with a tape measure) the distance between the computer monitor and my head… I guess they don’t want to be sued if I strain my eyes!

Because our department is relatively small, I was able to get a taste of many different jobs, and start working almost immediately. Tasks that I’ve been working on include: processing new books and journals, answering and requesting interlibrary loans, and processing the paperwork that goes into signing up new students/doctors for the library. I also got to observe an induction training for new nurses.

It is overwhelming how nice and accommodating my coworkers are. They have worked so hard to make me feel at ease in this place, and are always ready to answer any questions that may come up (not only about library work – I’m also getting lots of good information about things to do and see in the area!).

It’s also very interesting to work in a healthcare library, and see the differences between public v. academic v. healthcare/speciality libraries. For instance, there are many ethical issues around medical and healthcare librarianship that I never considered.

After work most days I come back to my flat and crash. It is a little overwhelming to start at a new job, and so far my building is very quiet (and not social). To try to make friends I therefore am joining Devon Bootlegs on their weekly walk tomorrow. Hopefully the 6:30am wakeup will be well worth it!