A virtual open day

Claire Carter

Claire Carter is recruitment and temporary staffing manager at Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust. In this blog she shares the trust's plans for an upcoming virtual open day to give potential staff an idea of what it's like to work for the organisation.

At Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, we love nothing more than opening our doors to showcase the amazing work we undertake across our sites. We hold three open days a year where our specialties come together to highlight some of the work they do, talk about career opportunities and pathways, and to show people around some of our world class facilities. We offer interactive sessions, talks, hands on presentations, tours and question and answer sessions. Our events regularly attract hundreds of people and advertising for these is done predominately using our trust’s social media channels.

The last open day we held was back in March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. We’d hoped that by the time our next open day came around in September 2020 we would be able to carry on as normal and open our doors to the hundreds of people that come and visit us.

It quickly became clear that we would not be able to continue with our September open day as planned. This did not deter us, it just made us think differently. We needed a different approach that would still allow us to reach out to people who would like to consider Birmingham Women’s and Children’s as a future place to work.

Like all NHS trusts we need to continue to grow our workforce. Our open days are not classed as recruitment events; their sole purpose is not to advertise for specific roles, their purpose is to open people’s eyes to all of the amazing opportunities that the NHS has to offer. We want to plant the seeds in people’s minds that the NHS has a vast variety of roles that require many different people from many backgrounds with a variety of different skills and experience.

So as the majority of 2020 has played out virtually for us all, we decided to plan and host our first ever virtual open day. Easy you may think? Think again! When we have so much we want to talk about and so many areas to showcase, we had to ask: how do we condense our normal approach into a targeted virtual session that delivers what our attendees they love, our knowledge, our passion, and our word class services? We started by changing our mindset and accepting that we couldn’t showcase every area across all of our sites, we had to think higher level and decided that we would offer sessions with staff from the following staff groups: nursing, women’s services, theaters, mental health services, apprenticeships, and allied health professions. For this even to be a success, it has needed to be a team effort with the areas themselves working together with communications, clinical photography, and recruitment.

We are offering two sessions for each specialty, a morning and an afternoon session. Each will be made up of live interactive talks and question and answer sessions, as well as pre-recorded videos of people’s experiences of working at the trust. Each session will be approximately 90 minutes long and will be recorded for future use.

A week before the open day, we had over 600 people register for the event and the excitement within the areas that are showcasing their department is contagious. Despite how busy everyone is at the moment, the requirement for us to keep recruitment at the forefront of what we do is still important to everyone at the trust. Our staff are our greatest asset as for us to achieve our vision of being the best place to work. We have needed to embrace the changes that COVID-19 has brought and to accept that we can open our doors to future colleagues in a safe and secure way.

If I didn’t already work here, seeing the videos that have been filmed and the content that will be discussed it would certainly make me consider us as a place to work!

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