I began my career in health and social care, supporting young adults with autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities. This involved offering person-centred and proactive care, and promoting life skills, independence, and inclusion, which was incredibly rewarding as I could see the difference I was making to people’s lives. After a few years, I was promoted to team leader, and it was within this role that I achieved both my NVQ levels 2 and 3 in health and social care, and level 2 in maths and English.
After a few years, I started working for South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT) within endoscopy as a band 2 healthcare assistant, and was promoted to band 3 the following year, which is where I am now. I work in the treatment rooms alongside a registered nurse where I maintain patients’ airways and monitor their vital signs during procedures – including gastroscopies, colonoscopies, and bronchoscopies – as well as getting involved in therapeutic work such as the removal of polyps from the bowel and taking colonic biopsies. I also work within the recovery area of endoscopy where I look after post-operative patients and their aftercare.
Studying for the BSc (Hons) Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship has influenced me in a lot of positive ways. It’s changed the way I think and respond, helping me to become more proactive rather than reactive. I’ve also built on my skills and knowledge, and I now feel that I can deal with emotional situations and patient conflict more independently. As I’ve progressed through the apprenticeship, my confidence has grown. Reflecting on my journey so far, I’ve been able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, using strategies learnt both in practice and at university to overcome these barriers.
Balancing work, studying, and family life can be difficult. I knew from the beginning that I’d have to stay organised and not leave my assignments to the last minute, so I’d spend a few hours a night after work focusing on studying. Whenever I faced any challenges, I’d speak to staff at the University who are always amazing at offering support when it’s needed. The work can feel like a lot at times, so make sure you speak up, even if that’s talking to someone in your cohort, as they’re probably feeling the same way as you. You aren’t alone on this journey!
During my studying, I was nominated for and received a STAR award. The STAR awards recognise the amazing work apprentices do in making sure patients are given high-quality care, and show we’re appreciated for our hard work. I was nominated for the award by the apprenticeship team at STSFT for my contribution in attending the open days and answering questions from potential new students. It felt great to be recognised for my work – a little thank you can go a long way and makes you want to keep doing what you’re doing.
I’m still working as a healthcare assistant, but my role has progressed into taking on more responsibility to expand on the competencies I achieved on placement. I now have the opportunity to admit patients for their procedures, discharge patients, complete safety checklists, and expand on my knowledge around medication. I also participate in gastroenterology multidisciplinary meetings, as well as plan further follow-up and interventional care with input from other specialities. I’ll always be grateful for my colleagues within endoscopy for their support, but my plan once I qualify is to go into emergency care. I learnt so much about this area when I was on placement on an emergency care ward, and you’re exposed to a wider range of learning opportunities. No two days are the same and seeing the difference we all make to patients’ lives and how grateful they are is amazing to be part of.
My advice to anyone thinking of studying for an apprenticeship at the University of Sunderland is to go for it. The support from personal tutors is amazing – they’re always just a phone call or email away and are more than happy to arrange face-to-face catchups. You’ll also receive a lot of support from study skills and library services whenever you need it, 24 hours a day. The University’s facilities are fantastic too – the mock wards are first class and although it’s scenario-based, they’re as close to real-life wards as possible. Everyone you meet at the University is so welcoming and supportive.”
Published 5 December 2023