Greetings from current trainees

Dear 2016-2019 trainees,

Welcome to Exeter University and the DClin Psy programme! We hope you’re feeling as excited to be starting your journey as we were last year. It’s ok to feel anxious and just remember the course team picked you for a reason and you will get through these next 3 years. In fact time will probably go quicker than you realise and be a lot of fun!

Here are some pointers to hopefully reduce any confusion and anxieties and to help you get off to a great start here in Exeter.

1. Don't be afraid to ask questions it's a good habit to get into. There are no foolish questions, and one only becomes a fool when one stops asking questions!

2. The programme’s various handbooks are a really useful resource and can answer a lot of questions. It’s worth getting to know them especially at the start of placement. Now there’s an electronic version it’s (slightly!) easier to find what you’re looking for using the ‘find’ function. Of course you can always ask someone if you are stuck.

3. Don’t worry if you can’t remember who all your various tutors are. We found it confusing! It just means that there are plenty of people on the course team who are there to offer you advice and support.

4. The course has undergone a lot of changes recently, as feedback from previous years help to shape it. There has been new developments in both Neuropsychology and CAT training both of which have been enhanced on the programme. These things often have teething problems, and it can get frustrating when you seem to be getting mixed messages from the staff (or different parts of the handbook). If/when this happens, try to work with the staff to sort out difficulties. They aren’t perfect, but they are trying hard to make this course as good as it can be, and they’re pretty good at being collaborative with the trainees in doing this. You will also be asked for feedback on the course to improve it for future years.

5. Your cohort is your best resource and working collaboratively (sharing books, articles, finished PBLs etc) rather than competing with each other is much more beneficial. It’s a really good idea to arrange a cohort meeting early on during the teaching block, as you’ll need to arrange practical issues. You will need to decide who will be the student reps for the various committees, how you’ll organise chairing and minute taking for staff/trainee meetings, and most importantly arranging supplies of tea, coffee, milk and biscuits! On that note, bring your own mugs in and find somewhere in your teaching room to stash them!

6. Keep the kitchen and teaching room tidy! The kitchen in the Wellcome Building, which will be your academic base in year 1, is a shared resource used by many other people in the building, so it helps if everyone does their part to keep it tidy, i.e. clearing up crumbs and washing up your cups. The Wellcome Building’s teaching rooms also have seating plans that may be different to how you use them, so it may be handy to familiarise yourselves with how to leave the chairs in each room after a teaching block.

7. Buddies and second years in general are also a really good resource and don’t hesitate to contact us, remember we were in your shoes last year! You can also ask your buddies for previous pieces of work if you are unsure how to get started with an assignment, or we can point you to relevant part of ELE; the online learning space, which has samples of work on it.

8. Making sure you keep in contact with friends and family outside of the course is really important because the course asks for a lot. So make sure you have some down time and discuss things other than placements and PBL!

9. When you are on your pre-placement visits take the time to look at the information on the clinical log in your handbooks. You can save yourself a lot of time and stress if you keep a little logbook that you update as you go whilst on placement. It's worth it. There is also a formatted version, which we as your buddies can send you.

10. There are a lot of places in and around Exeter for eating, drinking and socialising. Come ask us and we can point you in the right direction! We can also organize a social evening for us all to get to know each other. Just let us know!

11. Having a timetabled list of all the assignments for the next three years can feel a bit scary but ticking them off as you go along always feels good. If you haven’t got one already, get a big diary! Also, plan for time after assignments are marked and sent back so you can get any amendments done.

12. With academic work, aim for “good enough”. A lot of us have not found it easy to cope with conditional passes and referrals, when you’ve worked hard and have been aiming for a pass! Don’t take it personally; remember that feedback is all part of the learning process, which is why we’re all here. Don't be surprised if your work doesn't pass straight away, it's very normal and we’ve all experienced it! It's also worth Googling 'APA style guide' before you submit, as markers get very particular about things you might not initially think about like what font to use etc.

13. It's useful to plan annual leave and study days ahead of time, and to negotiate this with your placement supervisors in your contracting visits. Annual leave can't be taken on teaching days and so it needs to be used when on placement. Be explicit with your supervisors about how many days you have for annual leave and study leave, and how many you are planning on taking during the placement but it does need to be negotiated and agreed first.

14. Don't feel bad about negotiating time in placement to work on SSRP etc - you will be so glad later when you are not staying ridiculously late at work!

15. Try not to get carried away and take on too many patients/clients - find out how much report writing and paperwork goes along with each case - it may be more than you are used to! Plan ahead for which cases you may want to write up (clinical practice reports) since they can take up so much headspace and cause so much stress if you try to do something too ambitious. Don’t be afraid to be assertive with your supervisors about this if you need to. It’s ok for you ask for positive feedback as well since supervisors are only human and may not know all the other parts of your training.

16. It can feel a bit scary being asked to think about your DClinPsy major research study early on, but start to have conversations with potential research supervisors soon (and talk to second/third years about their experiences too!). This can help you to get an idea about what you want to do and how feasible your ideas are, so when it comes to submitting choices for supervisors it doesn’t feel too rushed.

17. Have fun and keep your sense of humour! You worked hard to get to this stage – enjoy it!

We have all felt like a fraud at times (and still do), it’s normal. However, just remember that you are good enough to be here, everyone’s journey on this course is different!

We will be around the department during your teaching so do come and ask us if there is anything you need. See you soon!

 "You worked hard to get to this stage - enjoy it!"