My experience as a HLA scholar
With the application window for the second cohort of HLA scholars now open, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the application process and how I have got involved with the academy so far.
I remember being instantly excited back in November 2016 when I noticed a tweet advertising a new initiative, the Healthcare Leadership Academy, aiming to empower the next generation of healthcare leaders and giving them the opportunity to come together and learn from each other. Reading more about the HLA re-enforced my belief that there is a desperate need to inspire future NHS leaders, and this might just be it. And so, in January 2017, I applied to be one of the founding scholars of the HLA.
The application process required an A4 summary outlining why I was suitable to be a scholar of the HLA. This included showing an active interest in leadership, health policy and the issues facing the NHS. Fitting all of this onto one sheet of paper was quite challenging as I enjoyed writing about the topics so much. I submitted this alongside a short video which was required to outline leadership roles I had experienced. This was the more difficult of the two because articulating in front of a camera was something I found challenging!
I was ecstatic when I received an email saying I has been successful in the first stage. First stage? There’s more? Yes, and next up was a Skype interview. I didn’t know how to best prepare for this so I decided to just go for it and be myself. The interview lasted only 15 minutes and was fairly pain-free! Johann, the Course Director, asked me some questions to expand on what I had submitted by paper and video.
A couple of days later I was informed that my application had been successful, which meant I would be one of the first scholars of the HLA. I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to start!
I was all ready for my first challenge as a HLA scholar. One of the first tasks was to use studio filming equipment to produce videos where we introduced ourselves and answered some general questions: “What makes a good leader? What made you want to become a leader?”. I had to concisely communicate my answers on video in two and a half minutes; again, this articulation was a challenge. I find public speaking comes naturally, and I even say I enjoy it. Standing in front of a camera, however, has a completely different feel. Being able to push myself outside my comfort zone and really articulate why I am passionate about leadership and why I had invested the effort to get to this stage in the process was a useful experience though, and just the first of many learning experiences I have gained through the HLA.
So why go through all of this and apply in the first place? Well, the HLA has been absolutely incredible and lived up to all of its promises. We have hosted inspirational speakers from across the healthcare sector and beyond, equipping us with information and skills to evolve as leaders. We are also involved in developing projects and helping run aspects of the HLA itself. For example, I am assisting with ensuring the sustainability of the academy, by developing its leadership and decision-making structures. Overall, what I have valued the most is learning alongside around other like-minded individuals. We gain a lot from working with each other, as we all have varying experience in leadership and healthcare. This is an experience above and beyond what you can gain in the workplace or on placements.
If you have any interest at all in leading the healthcare of tomorrow (and you should!), then don’t hesitate and apply today!