As we approach the end of May and some long awaited warmer temperatures, we would encourage those of you who have not yet booked your summer leave to consider doing so now. Most of us have been working at a heightened pace for the past 15 months now, we want to ensure that every member of staff takes some well-deserved annual leave to really disconnect and recharge after this unprecedented period of activity.
The Senior Management Team are committed to fully supporting teams to take this much needed time and are encouraging managers to work with their teams on identifying important but not urgent projects or deliverables that can be de-prioritised for the summer months to enable this period of rest.
We will be taking a break from issuing the HR Bulletins over the summer months with our next issue being our last before the summer break. We are also not planning any Townhall events or SLG events to ensure staff have additional time at their disposal. We would encourage teams to reduce any non-essential planned meetings over the July and August months. We will be issuing our next Staff Pulse Survey on 31st May which will seek to encourage all staff to take the necessary time for rest and relaxation in advance of what will hopefully be a busy and engaged academic term in September.
With the reopening of hotels from 2nd June, our colleagues in the RCSI Travel Office will be posting Staycation offers exclusively for RCSI staff with preferential rates from next week to help you plan for your summer vacation. You can also email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about booking a hotel. As the vaccination rate continues to grow, the national outlook looks increasing positive but we would like to remind all staff to remain vigilant and to comply with all government and HSE guidance to ensure you enjoy a safe summer.
This week has seen the beginning of Graduation season, always a week full of hope, pride, endings and also new beginnings. The School of Medicine Conferring Ceremony will take place this afternoon at 2pm and we encourage you to tune in to help celebrate this year’s graduates which would not have been possible without the immense dedication and professionalism shown by each and everyone in the RCSI community over the past year. You can watch it live via www.rcsi.com/dublin.
People Leaders Mental Health Awareness Workshop
The past year has been hard on us all and managing and leading teams from a remote setting required great adaptability from our people leaders. The Inspire team have organised ‘Mental Health Awareness Training for Managers’ with registered nurse, Alex Freeman, a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant and owner of Absence Management Solutions Limited. Alex provides expert training on all aspects of absence management and Mental Health First Aid. This 90 minute session will take place on Thursday 17th June at 12:00-13:30. Register your interest here.
The Mental Health Awareness Training for Managers provides an overview of mental health challenges and how we can spot it in ourselves and in those who work with us. We will discuss the link between work, health and wellbeing and the importance of language on stigma and the perception of mental health. To help you in your role as a manager we will discuss how to have a conversation with someone you think may be experiencing mental health challenges and the management of absence and return to work through adjustment and accommodation. The session will include examples of real case studies. Discussions and questions are encouraged throughout the session. Register your interest here.
In this week’s Team Spotlight! we catch up with a team that has supported so many of our students, every year, but particularly this year. This is the Centre for Mastery: Personal, Professional & Academic Success (CoMPPAS) team.
The CoMPPAS service, under the direction of Noel O’Callaghan, Head of Student Development and Wellbeing comprises the Student Welfare Office, the Careers Office and Learning Supports and Disability Office.
Student Welfare Office (SWO)
RCSI has innovated in the appointment of Social Workers in the role of Student Welfare Officers within a higher educational setting. This is unique in Third Level settings in Ireland and Aoife Gilligan Quinn, Sinead O’Kelly and Michelle Whelan have been delivering an amazing level of service through an immensely challenging 12 months. They are the heart of an integrated student support and care framework which calls out that ‘Everyone has a role in Student Wellbeing’. As registered Social Workers, the team is experienced in working with a huge level of complexity in terms of the depth and the breadth of presenting issues. This is critical as the service responds to a 110% increase in demand during the pandemic. Despite the increased demands placed upon the team, the SWO have also been able to deliver a ‘proactive’ programme and changes that will reap benefits for the entire student population. Rolling out the ‘Responding to students in distress’ training for staff, engagement with Dept. of Health Psychology, and collaboration with the Centre for Positive Psychology and Health to produce resources around exam times has proved very beneficial. With new joiner, Emma Daly onboard, we look forward to rising to the challenges that 2021/22 have in store for us.
The Career Development Team
The disruption caused by Covid-19 has impacted every aspect of how we work and live and the relatively new members within the Career Development Team have only ever really known RCSI during Covid. Niamh Mullen, Ciara Tallon and Paul Igbrude have worked tirelessly, creatively and proactively to support all students with their career aspirations over the academic year 2020/21.
The Team have prioritised student needs and developed a number of workshops to recognise the unique challenges that Covid-19 has brought. Our participation in, and collaboration with students within, the recent StEP programme designed and implemented by Prof. Celine Marmion cemented this investment. Other highlights include the ‘Professional Identity Series’, the creation of the ‘International Guide to Postgraduate Medical Training’, and the revamping of the Careerhub platform which won a StEP Partnership award. In response to the pandemic we have launched themed ‘Career Drop-in Clinics’, online 1:1’s, online Mock-Interviews, Career Christmas resources and most recently Hotel Quarantine Career Development Packs.
And most importantly we all shared in the delight of welcoming Fionnuala Rahilly back to the team following a leave of absence. Having Fionnuala back brings a depth of knowledge and history of the RCSI Career Development offering that compliments the ideas and perspectives of the new team members. Academic year 2021/22 will see us roll out our new Programme of Work including the Student Choice module component of THEP, and build upon the momentum gained from the successes in 2020/21. With expansion of the team comes an opportunity to develop a new model of School Partnering which will be launched in Academic year 2021.
Learning Access and Facilitation Service
This year has seen the service support increasing numbers of students with disabilities and learning support challenges. Meanwhile the service has identified challenges that clinical/professional placements can present for students with disabilities. Jacinta Burke is part of a strategic working group with DAWN, AHEAD and the HEA to produce guidelines to assist HEIs in supporting students to meet required competences during this time and beyond. This working group is expected to finalise guidelines in Q1,2022. Input will be sought from all stakeholders.
Strategic funding from the HEA, and a partnership with other HEIs, has allowed us to commence our development of a more inclusive approach for students with disabilities though universal design. We look forward to continue working with all to find innovative solutions in the most sensitive of circumstances and would like to thank everyone who has supported our students in meeting course and graduate competencies.
Finally, the CoMPPAS team is not complete without particular mention of our Coordinator Theresa Murphy. Theresa plays a key role in initiatives such as International Citizenship award, while simultaneously keeping the rest of us in check!
With so many new team members, staying connected has been particularly important. A regular cadence of team meetings, a daily morning check-in, and the impromptu ‘anyone want to grab a cuppa’ have all helped. We’ve also encouraged everyone to book 50 minute meetings instead of 1 hour. This frees up 10 mins for notetaking, email checking, or heaven forbid some self-care.
Some great advice there on the benefits of scheduling 50 minute meetings!! Finishing this week with a reminder that one day this will all be in the past, and we’ll be able to look back with pride.
As always, take care of yourselves and each other,
Barry and the HR team