The NHS Grad Scheme: The Key to Our Success?

Baby Steps for a Better Future?

Who’d want to do it? Becoming an NHS manager where you’re strapped for cash and resources, are pressured to meet government targets and have to deal with ego fueled doctors (I can say that!) and stressed nurses!

Well, the NHS Graduate Management Scheme 2012 just kicked off and that’s precisely the challenge this years’ crop are embracing. With all the talk of innovation, change and ‘shared purpose’ we need to appreciate that often prevailing attitudes can be nigh on impossible to change.

However, investing these values and perspectives in our trainees will pay off many times over. So let’s take a look at some of the key skills our grads will need to develop over the next few months and years.



You know it. I know it. Then for goodness sake let’s learn to say it! Communication is the single key skill you need to develop to become an effective manager.

Communication isn’t just talking. It’s listening. It’s also about body language and recognising when to open your mouth and when to keep it shut. It’s about understanding the language you use with different people. You don’t talk to the orthopaedic registrar the same way you talk to a Patient Representative or the same way you talk to your accounts manager.

Recognise the differences, communicate accordingly and unite everyone to achieve the improvements you aim to bring about.

Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking [Definition]

‘A heuristic for solving problems; you try to look at the problem from many angles instead of tackling it head-on.’

Basically, you have no money. Not everyone will agree with you. People will expect many different solutions which are often conflicting.

What do you do? Think outside the box. You need to consider the fact that management involves managing personalities as well as figures on paper and you’ll be juggling many expectations. You need to think of cost-effective ways of achieving your goals and you have to be brave enough to plan these and turn them into reality.

Just because someone hasn’t tried your way before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Time Management

Another obvious one. Get a diary. Set up your Linkedin Calendar. Get used to your iPad’s Reminder settings.

Punctuality, organisation and delivery are appreciated by everyone you work with and advance warning if you think something isn’t going to work out on time.

It will do your reputation and career no end of good when you master time management.


Look, many graduate schemes are tremendous opportunities to develop yourself but they are often sheltered environments. I may have spent six years at medical school but I didn’t fully understand the harsh realities of medicine until my last year or so and really only when I started working.

The NHS is a large, stressful, demanding machine the continues to march on day by day.

You’re entering that world. We expect you to work with people like me to deliver change and improve patient outcome and to keep this machine moving! So stay true to your convictions, be willing to adapt and be prepared to embrace the challenge.


Dr Saif Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd



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