So as you know I am not PhD-ing at the moment, I am working instead. I took a SGSSS internship at the Scottish Government (number 36 on the list for the Scottish Government internships) when I was offered the post earlier in the year. The start date was prefect and it meant that I could take a break from my PhD and do some research in an area that was completely unrelated to my own doctoral work (this was a specific requirement for an internship for me).
As part of my internship I am based with a specific team within St Andrews House in Edinburgh. I am based within: Directorate: Health & Social Care Integration, Division/Team: Digital Health & Care in the eHealth: Policy & Strategy team of the Scottish Government. I joined the team in the processes of a new Digital Health and Care Strategy being developed, which was in its final stages of approval. As you can now see, the strategy has been published and my internship work aims to feed into the strategy and will eventually (hopefully) help/support the implementation of specific elements of this.
I was looking forward to starting my internship and quite nervous at the same time. I started just after the Easter bank holiday so I got a nice rest before all the hard work began. My first week was very induction focused. I met most of the team and a lot of other people who may be interested in the findings of my work. I also completed quite a lot of e-learning which was a requirement of the internship so that I was trained to the necessary standards of the government. I have since met some of the other interns working in health too. There are more of us than I had thought!
My second couple of weeks were spent planning out the project (e.g. developing a project plan and analysing literature around the project). The project plan was developed so we can see if the project is on track and so we could schedule what tasks needed doing and when. This seemed to work for my PhD (in my first review) so taking this approach was definitely useful for the 13 weeks of work ahead. My literature searching was something I had not done in a while, and something I had not done in the Scottish Government. I learned about the library the Scottish Government has and the vast amount of resources where literature (both policy and strategy related and academic journals) are based. I started to look into the relevant policies and strategies created either by or in partnership with the Scottish Government to help me set context to the research. My next task was to explore the literature ad determine if there was a gap – luckily there was (this was determined before I was even an intern but I had to fins this out for myself too!). but it was still good to know my internship work has basis and it was filling a gap where this needed to be filled.
A while back I bumped into some other PhD students and joked about this being a mini-PhD project in 13 weeks. In my eyes I see the same structure and planning phases but some of the procedures (e.g. data collection and ethics) do differ as this is not an academic project. It was good to learn about how things work within the Government so that I am learning about the non-academic/public sector side of things too. This is all helpful for the potential future career move to non-academia when the time comes.
I have also completed the stages of data collection preparation (e.g. developing questions to ask participants), piloting and am now in the process of collecting data for the project. As you can see from the internship project advert, I was required to carry out some interviews with practitioners. We decided to take a slightly different approach in data collection (still qualitative) than originally planned but this makes the project even better. This is now going to be a mix of focus groups, interviews and other qualitative methods so that we can reach the people who we need to in the time given for the internship.
By the end of the week I will have collected around 90% of the data so far and managed to transcribe it all too. The method of transcription is a little unique compared to that of my PhD but it is based on a specific methodology that has research and academic grounding (and publications) to help justify its use. You will be able to find out more about this in my report once it is approved and published, keeping in mind that this could take a little while as it needs to go through a lot of reviews before it does.
Aside from the project planning and data collecting, I have been able to attend some interesting meetings too (some project related and some not) and get to know how the Scottish Government works with other services (e.g. the NHS, Care Inspectorate, homecare services etc). I have been able to listen in and observe carefully to actions taken to develop and implement the new strategy as well understand the roles of others involved. I have been able to explore what mobile working technology products are available out there, which in turn is helping to shape the development of the project and its future applications.
Part of my internship project is to present the findings of the research to practitioners Scottish Government Staff and other associated staff too. This is something that I am having to work towards and I will be able to prepare for this towards the need of my internship seeing as though I am booked in to present this on my final day as an intern. To help me prepare, I am able to present the findings of my part of the larger project at a local networking event next week where my internship supervisor will discuss the wider project and her quantitative results too. I will then have the opportunity to discuss the preliminary findings from my data collection so far and help to facilitate what all of this could mean in health and social care practice. One things I am having the opportunity to do (soon) is present my doctoral work within the healthcare division. My work relates quite nicely to some team goals the service is developing so having that opportunity to share knowledge of my work and some results of one of my case studies I something that I welcome. We have not yet scheduled a time for this just yet but it will be a valuable opportunity for my work to have some form of impact, not only in the healthcare of the Scottish Government but in an area outside of the intended audience of my doctoral work (a bonus indeed!).
So as a quick recap half way through – I am thoroughly enjoying my time here. I think that the work will benefit my own PhD work in that I will see where the applications lie. Similarly, the internship is giving me an insight into working in the Scottish Government should this be a career move in the future. I am seeing a huge difference in my own working pattern in terms of my time in the office, my workload and this is completely different to what my PhD has brought. I had said to one of my supervisors that I taught that the new schedule would hit me ‘smack in the face’ in the first couple of weeks and so it did. Luckily I have got used to the change in schedule very quickly and working location and this has not bothered me one bit!
More internship updates will follow when I can…