‘Surviving’ the final term as a TEP
It’s the final term of training, hopefully your thesis will soon be handed in and work is still coming in on placement. These are some reflections on my own experience that I hope will help you at this point, and encourage feelings of calm and control.
1. Utilise those study days
Even if I thought that I wouldn’t do something ‘significant’ on one day, I’d still do something, however small it seemed. Organising my notes, writing a to-do list, recording a reference. Every little helps (as Tesco would say) and it was ok to ‘write off’ an occasional day, just so long as it didn’t happen all of the time!
2. Write where you feel comfortable.
This might be at home, at a desk, or sitting on the sofa, at university in a quiet room or surrounded by the buzz of other students. Do what you feel works for you and change this if it isn’t working. For some, it can be easier to be distracted at home – by household chores, eating, the TV. For others, you might want or need every note and textbook around you so leaving the house might not seem like an option.
3. Have a buddy, and make use of them!
I found this important to retain my sanity! I found that people from outside the course sympathised with my level of work, and listened as I talked about my thesis, but they may not have completely understood what it felt like to be doing it. Having a buddy on the course meant that if they weren’t currently going through the same situation then they might have previously, or may well do so in the future so they could listen or help depending on what I needed.
1. Making friends with your administration staff
They are the ones who will help you correct any admin mistakes, answer office/logistical questions and probably be the person you see most often in the office.
2. Enjoying office time
It was sometimes tricky but I tried to make sure that my office time wasn’t taken over by stress that I might have been experiencing. Busy, stressful days were natural and happened but I found that often, being in the office helped to alleviate some of those feelings (or at least normalise them).
3. Making friends in the office
Much like the thesis buddy, I found these people to be great sources of strength. Peer supervision and informal time at lunchtimes helped me to take time out from work and/or thesis, reflect and re-energise.
4. Making the most of being a trainee
I tried to gain experience with types of work I hadn’t experienced yet, shadow EPs that I had been intrigued by, and spent time really reflecting on practice. I built up information that would help me out the following year, created report or consultation templates with specific information to include, and thought about my areas of interest and researched these – preparing myself as best I could for September.
5. Taking that extra step in supervision
I tried to explore topics that seemed scary or that I thought I ‘should’ already know. Supervisors are the ones who can help you make contact with those EPs you just have to see in action before your placement ends. Rely on your supervisor to support your development right up until the end of your placement and enjoy your time with them. This final term is a great time to effectively reflect on your practice with someone who has travelled the journey alongside you; they will want to hear about what you have learnt and what you are taking forward into your first qualified role.
It would be great to hear others’ pearls of wisdom about that final term as a TEP – comment below!