In person: ‘Not another ask!’

Karen Middleton reflects on how you can find time for a busy day job and still pursue your professional interests.

I’m all too aware of the big asks we sometimes make of CSP members, given the busy professional lives you lead, never mind your home life! But, if you want something done, ask a busy person. So I remain hopeful that sufficient numbers of you will rise to the challenge in supporting your CSP.
Last month, for example, marked the start of our new-look, streamlined CSP Council. It was also the closing date for members to apply to be on the three new committees.
Engaging with and working on behalf of the profession, whether on council or serving on committees, is voluntary. But it’s key to ensuring the CSP reflects the tough reality of working life for members out there. 
Many more members volunteer to work on behalf of the profession in capacities other than council or committees: stewards and safety reps, professional network members, country boards and regional networks, the Charitable Trust and the Members Benevolent Fund, to name but a few. Members are also asked to engage in additional work locally for their employer or to inform work led by national health bodies.
So why do all this extra work? And why should your employer release you to do it?
You might do it out of professional duty, personal passion, wanting to engage in the change you want to see, or a desire to share your expertise and experience. 
There is also a reward from putting in the extra voluntary hours. It will widen your horizons. You learn so much more about yourself and your profession and it all contributes to your continuing professional development too. You gain different skills, whether that’s how to conduct yourself at a board meeting, how to develop an argument, present your point of view or exert your influence.
A request for board-level experience can easily be satisfied by your tenure on CSP Council. (There’s also a lot of fun and laughter to be had!)
But how do you square all that with your employer? What do they have to gain from you doing all this, given they bear the brunt of the cost of ‘releasing’ you, if it’s in work time? You will probably have to negotiate with your employer and the approach you take in doing that is key.
I have been involved in work on behalf of one of the national bodies where I am conscious of the pleading that allied health professionals have had to do to get there, when their medical colleagues didn’t even ask. You will know whether you are in a position to ‘just do it’ or not.

Here are my tips:

  • Start from a position of reasonable expectation, as long as you are being reasonable. A ‘this is my right’ attitude is unlikely to go well.
  • You are a clinical professional with a responsibility to improve patient care, inform education and standards of practice, reduce variation and improve efficiency. Talk more about the difference it makes to the wider healthcare system, patients and their families than to your profession, as this sounds self-serving.
  • Talk about what you will bring back to your employing organisation: a broader knowledge of what is happening elsewhere, useful connections, raising the profile of the organisation, the impact on your own development
  • Draw comparisons with colleagues who have done similar things. Garner their support too, but be careful not to push the person into a corner.
  • Remember, it is a negotiation and you will have to compromise and weigh up in your mind what you are going to ‘give’. 
I am conscious that members are finding it more and more difficult to find time for commitments outside work, including with the CSP. But I do know that those who dip their toe in find it rewarding and know it makes a difference. 

Karen Middleton Chief Executive Officer CSP

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