I stayed for ten years in my last job, so should my boss be worried that today is my tenth anniversary with the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT)? Have I got itchy feet? No, I have not (no need to worry Rob).
The secret to my contentment has been in finding the right combination of two parallel careers – having discovered many years ago that working full time in one post does not suit me. There are many part-time workers in the NHS and I have been fortunate enough to work part time for all my 23 years in NHS clinical audit. Which has freed me up to regularly exchange my clinical audit hat for at least one other type of headgear. I am beginning to sound like The Cat in the Hat!
For well over a decade my parallel career was in scientific publishing: writing abstracts, proof reading, copy-editing, indexing, and so on. This was a reasonably interesting combination for me, but not quite perfect. Then in 2005 two things happened: my son inspired me to re-visit creative writing; and I started work at a mental health and learning disabilities Trust (the CPFT). Those two steps set me on a writing ramble that has lasted ten years so far.
When I started writing for pleasure again I discovered, as many before me have, that writing is good for you. So I began reading about therapeutic writing, did some training, joined Lapidus, and started to wonder whether I might be able to do some writing work in our mental health wards. My therapeutic writing career breakthrough came in 2009 when I saw a poster for the CPFT’s very own Dragons Den. I bid for and won funding to lead a “Year of Writing” project. And as part of the “Year of Writing” I started my first weekly writing group in a psychiatric ward.
My combination career is now made up of a part-time, permanent post in clinical audit, and sessionally paid work leading weekly therapeutic writing groups in four psychiatric wards. A combination career may not be for everyone, but it has worked for me for more than twenty years. It is definitely a good option to consider if you feel the need to retain financial security, but at the same time yearn to pursue a new career in an intellectually stimulating (but notoriously low paid) field such as writing.
For those who are interested here are some milestones of the last ten years:
2005 started writing fiction and poetry again (after twenty five years)
2005 joined CPFT
2007-08 Introduction to Counselling Certificate
2008 Introduction to Mindfulness training
2009 achieved Certificate in Creative Writing (Lancaster University)
2009 two poems published in “Pinhole Camera 3” (University of Cumbria)
2009-10 in-house Psychological Skills training (levels one and two)
2009 led my first writing workshop
2010-11 led the CPFT “Year of Writing” project
2010 started therapeutic writing in a mental health ward
2011 organized the “Writing in Healthcare Conference”
2011 started this blog
2011 started weekly therapeutic writing group in Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit
2011 Ty Newydd Writing in Health and Social Care course
2012 published the “Words for Wellbeing” book
2012 started weekly therapeutic writing group in 3rd mental health unit
2013 won a prize in the poetry installation “Beneath the Boughs”
2013 joined the STyLUS project team
2014 story published online by “Page and Spine”
2014 commissioned to write a chapter in a forthcoming expressive writing book
2015 started weekly therapeutic writing group in 4th mental health unit