One of the best things about having a placement year, aside from increased chances of employability, is developing all the most useful skills that are going to be your biggest life saver when it comes to moving towards independent study in final year but also life beyond graduation. So far, it’s been around 8 months since I’ve been working as an honorary assistant psychologist, and within that timescale I’ve managed to polish many of the life skills that I had developed previously.
1. Communication – this is the biggest skill I’ve developed because on placement I was always surrounded by different people, whether I was discussing therapies with a clinical psychologist, understanding recovery with psychiatric nurses or even conducting psychology sessions with service users, I created many communicative styles. This helped me create professional relationships with my team members and service users under my care and establish boundaries.
2. Self-confidence – just like many other students I was comfortable with knowing the theories behind different therapeutic interventions, mental health and antipsychotic drugs, but the thing I was uncomfortable with the most was practical work that involved a lot of social interaction and administration of therapies. Over time and exposing myself more to these practical situations, I became more confident, alongside this, I received constructive criticism from my supervisor which helped me have faith in my abilities.
3. Time management – procrastination is a terrible, yet common habit amongst students, including myself, in university when you have more free time during the year it’s easy to let things slip and cram last minute for exams and for submitting assignments. However, when you’re working a 9-5 job and completing paperwork, there’s no time to procrastinate, if you do, you’ll find yourself frantically catching up and spending longer hours than you’d really want to. Once I started recording events, meetings and psychology sessions, my life just became a lot easier and things began to run much more smoothly.
4. Mental Health Awareness – this one is more specific to the placement that I’m currently at, but it’s still important to consider, mainly because it was taboo subject for an incredibly long time. In recent years it’s become more spoken about in families, the media and society in general. I developed my knowledge around psychosis and after meeting service users and their families I was more aware of how important it is to have a person-centred approach for treatment plans, including not just antipsychotic drugs but also, social inclusion.
Though I have a much longer list of skills and knowledge that I gained over the past year, these are the most transferable and useful for final year and life beyond university. To anyone that has secured a placement, congratulations and I hope you’re looking forward to your unique opportunity, and to anyone still securing a placement, good luck and best wishes for the future.