Friday, 1 February 2013

Specialist Diabetes Dietitian

Path bordered by assorted greenery
Sissinghurst, June 2012
Are your fingernails bitten to the quick? Is your breath bated? At last, I have more than two minutes to sit down and waste time on this blog, rather than running about like a mad thing. I have to admit that I didn't help myself by agreeing (having my arm twisted) to play in a badminton match on Tuesday, so that I didn't have more than ten minutes at home and awake and not in the shower between Sunday night and Wednesday evening on my first week in a new job.

So the new job started bright and early on Monday morning, when I reported for duty at Hospital B. The new employer is an NHS Trust which was formed from the amalgamation of two Trusts several years ago, and contains two large hospitals which I shall call Hospital A and Hospital B. My main place of work is Hospital A, but my direct line manager and her manager are both based at Hospital B, which is why I started there.

The first few days and weeks of a new job are always difficult, confusing, alternately crazy busy and tediously dull. Because you don't know anyone, are perpetually lost both literally and figuratively, constantly depending on other people for instruction/direction/advice/signatures on forms, there is very little that can be done independently. What I can do independently is deathly, and consists of reading about a million policies. And when I say 'reading', I mean 'skimming in the most cursory way imaginable'.

So far, then, subjects of particular interest are, in no particular order: commuting, parking, hospital navigation, and administrative paperwork.

The drive to and from work is taking a very long time indeed. Hospital A is nearer than Hospital B, but parking is more challenging, so I have been advised to try the (free of charge) Park and Ride service, which adds about 20 minutes to the journey time (including the bus trip to the hospital). Sometimes I have to travel between hospitals, which takes about 45 minutes on the (free of charge) shuttle bus, but may mean finishing the day at the wrong hospital, in which case it takes up to an hour to get back to the Park and Ride car park, followed by that long commute home. So I have applied for an on-site parking permit, which is reasonably priced but doesn't actually guarantee a parking place.

Hospital B is where I had my interview, and is an old site comprising buildings from ancient times that might have been workhouses, through to modern convention centres, with every era in between represented, and plenty of traditional lino-floored corridors. For just a moment one day, I caught an evocative whiff of that 'old hospital' smell of disinfectant and floor polish, transporting me back to the time when dad once took sister D and me to spend the day in Westminster Hospital while he worked there. The site containing Hospital B is huge, and the Diabetes department is in a separate building at the opposite end of the site from the main Dietetics department where the rest of the Dietitians live. It is probably a ten minute walk between the two.

In contrast, Hospital A is a purpose-built concrete monstrosity. I had to go there a few times for courses as a student, and found it confusing then, but now that I am expected to work there I am finding it almost impossible to navigate. Coming from my previous situation in a modern hospital with a completely logical layout and consistent ward numbering, this is a rabbit warren that makes no sense at all and has me utterly lost as soon as I turn a corner. I have learned just two routes so far: from the front entrance and from the nearest bus stop to the department, and even these are fairly flaky. If I go anywhere else, I have to be accompanied, like an idiot child or a convicted felon.

I am based in the Diabetes department, which is a different area from where the other Dietitians live. I share a room with the Dietitian who got the full time permanent job that I applied for, which is only fair as he had already been working there on the temporary contract that I now have. Our room is only just big enough for two, has no windows, and opens onto one of the main corridors. All around are corridors containing doors to rooms housing Diabetes consultants, registrars, their secretaries, Diabetes Specialist Nurses (hereafter abbreviated to DSNs), and the office containing two admin staff, a load of files and the kitchen/eating area. I have been introduced to a LOT of people.

I'm starting to see the end of the administrative paperwork phase. Apart from the contract and the payroll information, which I am obviously very keen on, there have been forms for the parking permit, the ID badge which doubles as a swipe card for getting through security doors, annual leave authorisation, occupational health forms, local induction, Trust policies and procedures, and - my favourite - my competency has been assessed and verified by signature of my line manager in the use of weighing scales and stadiometers (height measuring devices). Trust induction has been delayed, however, because there is no space for me to attend in February and the dates haven't been fixed for March. Let's hope I'm not involved in a cardiac arrest or have to lift anything heavy in the meantime, because I'm sure I wouldn't know what to do.

So far, so good. People are friendly, I can even remember some of their names, the other three diabetes Dietitians are lovely, and my room-share buddy (I'll have to think of a way to refer to him) even baked some delicious cookies and brought them to a meeting. I haven't even mentioned the job itself, but I'm looking forward to getting on with it with great relish.

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