Tips for success

  • A good work-life balance: “The programme can be stressful and place lots of demands on your time - balance this out by having enough time for yourself, make sure you spend it doing things you enjoy and develop your personal interests.”
  • Time management: “Forward planning and setting your own deadlines. In terms of deadlines there are periods of relative quiet and others when several key things need to be done at similar times. Wherever possible start projects early and consider how they are going to fit together.”
  • Start early: “Start planning as early as possible and discuss your initial ideas with lots of people. Start early with the ethics and proposal ideas, it makes all the difference in the end.”
  • Study days: “Be wise and use your study days effectively, trying to enforce self-discipline here will help in the long run.”
  • Organisation:Organise yourself. Do the work in small chunks.”
  • Support and supervision: “Use the support/supervision available to its full potential both within and outside the programme. Set up a facebook group (with privacy settings considered) for late night support.”
  • Keep things in perspective: “Try not to lose perspective of your goal and the future: when all this ends, you'll find yourself at the other end of the tunnel and (hopefully) qualified!!!!”
  • Choose topics you're interested in: “Make sure that you choose research areas that you are really interested in, and topic areas that the services will be engaged with.”
  • Be confident in your abilities: “With clinical assessments such as the PPR remember to act as though you are a clinician sharing an interesting piece of work, not someone apologising for what you have done.”
  • Draft deadlines as actual deadlines: “Pretend that draft reading deadlines are 'real' deadlines. Handing in what you think is your best work at draft gives you the chance to really improve.”
  • Just keep going: “It does eventually get done”
  • Being good enough: “Always remember you're not expected to know everything or get it perfectly right - ever! Even as a qualified clinician you are always learning. Accept that it's okay to get stuff wrong. “
  • Pronouncing Whewell: “The Whewell building is pronounced 'hugh-well' not 'wee-well'; you will make an idiot of yourself if you say 'wee-well' as inevitably everyone will have somehow grasped this strange pronunciation other than you.”

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The work load

No exams but...

  • The work is fairly constant.
  • You have multiple demands to balance.
  • You need excellent organisational skills and constant motivation, even when there isn't a deadline looming.

It's worth it...

  • You take the reins on what you need to know.
  • You can tailor your learning to what interests you most.
  • Often your work is relevant to people you are working with, so you really get a good feel of what actually works clinically and what just sounds good in the books.

Teaching days

The things we never knew...

  • Preparation can often be required to get the most out of teaching.
  • Extra teaching days are very frequent so be prepared to travel to uni more than once a week.
  • There are often role-plays, which are a bit cringey but give an experience of what certain situations might be like 'in real life'.

The ‘could be better' bits...

  • More opportunities for integrating with other year groups would be good.
  • Sometimes there is too much focus on assessment and formulation, and less focus on interventions.
  • Greater input from service users (LUPIN) would make teaching even better.
  • It can get repetitive at times; more overall coordination of the content is needed.

The best bits...

  • We get taught by some of the leading minds in the field which is absolutely amazing and inspiring.
  • Teaching days are good for touching base with your year group who know exactly what you're going through.
  • The whole group or small group discussions give you an opportunity to discuss new learning.

And finally... time passes at double the speed and you need to be aware that at the end of it you will be going into the 'real world' with clinical responsibility.