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Newly qualified EPs: 10 tips from the #twittereps community

As I write this it has been a whole year since I braced myself to start work as a newly qualified EP. 

It felt surreal, exciting but daunting and I remember feeling completely unprepared to lose the title of ‘trainee.’  A year later as I sit here scared to lose the title of ‘newly qualified’ I realise now that being EP is not about knowing everything but about having solid foundations, which the doctorate training provides.

This year I tried to focus on building relationships. Relationships with colleagues, with schools, with families and children and young people. At times, when I felt overwhelmed (because yes, it is normal to sometimes not quite feel in control all the time) I reminded myself that as long as I try my best, I listen to what families are telling me and create a warm safe space in which they feel heard and valued, I could not overly go wrong. 

As I begin to think about the next year and what I hope to improve on and achieve, I was pleased to see come across a tweet by @KateGobourn reaching out into the wonderful world of Twitter for advice on managing life as a newly qualified EP. The EP community came out strong and supportive and here are some of the tips they shared. There were also contributions from teachers, parents, SEND support services, speech and language therapists and SEND action groups.

Learn about processes and wider systems

Taking the time to learn where you fit within SEND systems and with other colleagues was seen to help in understanding your role and help with report writing. 

Build Relationships

Colleagues suggested it is helpful to take time to build relationships with the schools you work with, and with colleagues from health, social care and wider services.

Take your time

Excited? It can be tempting to jump straight in. Give yourself time to settle in and seek opportunities to connect with and shadow colleagues. Oh, and take notes! It is likely you will be given a lot of information during your induction and it will be near impossible to remember it all.          

Be specific when giving advice

When writing your psychological advice, think about whether it is fit for purpose. Does it describe what needs to be done to support the child or young person and who needs to do it? Be specific. 

Be strengths focused

Think about the impact of the words you use and how the child and family will feel reading your report. Take time to reflect on your assessment information and what it means in relation to the context of the child. Drawing out the child’s strengths can be key to positive change. Be the cheerleader that the child needs. 

Do things to prioritise your wellbeing

Hopefully, you will be working in this profession for a long time. That means you need to take care of yourself. Some tips included booking in annual leave in advance, ensuring you have enough admin days to clear the ‘to-do’ list and having clear boundaries by only working your contracted hours. You get your weekends back…yay!

Stay curious, remain open and don’t be afraid to ask for help

Every EP will practice differently and there is beauty in that. Observe others and take bits of practice that fit with what feels right to you. Supervision can be the perfect opportunity for reflection. 

Be child-centred, always

It can be challenging at times to feel influenced by the needs of schools, parents, or even your organisation. Ensure you are working in the interests of the child or young person was a key bit of advice shared.

Keep learning and make time for CPD

Connecting with certain twitter pages was recommended, along with reading up on legislation and engaging with webinars. 

Believe in yourself

Remember how big of a mountain the doctorate felt to climb?  Well, you have done it! Don’t forget how far you have come. Colleagues shared many messages of congratulations acknowledging the success of finishing training and the unique contribution each EP will make.

So they’re some of the tips that #Twittereps and colleagues gave. You might have your own words of wisdom that a newly qualified EP (or I would argue anyone in the profession) might benefit from! If so, comment below!

With thanks to Kate for inspiring this conversation on Twitter and to all the contributors who offered their advice, hints and tips.

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