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At 47 years old I was running out of opportunities, but an Apprenticeship at Virgin Care has opened so many doors for me

Ever since leaving school I wanted to be a nurse, but unfortunately, I didn’t achieve the qualifications I needed to pursue it. Prior to working for the NHS, I was stuck taking up mundane jobs in order to make ends meet, to support my family and pay my mortgage.

I was able to start as a health care assistant, 13 years ago. After three and a half years I became senior HCA and I completed my NVQ level 3 in Health and Social Care. I then moved onto working with the Community Matron team and after a year I was offered a transfer into the Community Nursing team at Sittingbourne were I could do my Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care. I have been working their ever since. After completing my FD I progressed to the band 4, Associate Practitioner position.

So, a year ago Virgin Care provided me the opportunity of an apprenticeship. I thought long and hard. I was top of band 4, I had 16 years left to work and I was consequently at a place where I couldn’t progress anymore. For me, studying for a BSc Adult Nursing Degree was a no brainer.

This chance was incredibly important to me, at 47 I was running out of opportunities  This has opened doors for me, I feel I have become more professional and experienced and believe that apprenticeships should be much more widely offered than they already are. It’s not just myself who benefits either, companies who offer apprenticeships gain a workforce with extensive knowledge and experience and therefore a valued member to their team.

Over the whole course of my degree, I spend 2300 hours in placement and 2300 hours at university completing theory. The weeks I am on placement I spend two days in my Community nursing role and three days on placement. I study at Greenwich University and they have been absolutely amazing, they are all so supportive, knowledgeable and overall, quite brilliant.

A normal day for me at the moment on placement on Harty Ward starts with a handover followed by a drugs round. I help healthcare assistants with washing, dressing, toileting and meal times.  I participate in doctor’s rounds, home visits, multidisciplinary team meetings and I also spend time with the physiotherapist and occupational therapists.

My job is the most rewarding in the world. I love being around different people every day and learning about them, their families, their stories and lives. Community nursing is very varied and diverse.  Also, being in community nursing means working some years on Christmas Day.  Some of the service users that we visit on that day may have no family and we are the only contact they have had, which I find very humbling.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week and I think it is extremely important to raise awareness surrounding apprenticeships, and reiterate that they can be for anyone. The benefits are endless, and it’s an excellent way to move forward in your career.

Follow the discussion on Facebook and Twitter this week by searching the hashtags #LookBeyond and #NAW2020.

Find out more about Virgin Care apprenticeships here.

Virgin Care
Virgin Care
Virgin Care
Virgin Care

As part of National Apprenticeship Week (3rd-7th February 2020) our PR Executive Molly McNaughton, who is also studying for an apprenticeship, tells us why she thinks they provide an excellent route to getting a strong start in your career.

Virgin Care
Virgin Care

Sarah van der Merwe, our Head of Apprenticeships, goes in to detail about why apprenticeships are an amazingly useful way of educating yourself and progressing your career.

Virgin Care
Virgin Care

Elly Gunning, 52, tells how completing an apprenticeship isn’t just for school leavers and you can do an apprenticeship whatever age you are.

Virgin Care
Virgin Care

As a former GP who has worked in healthcare for 34 years, I – like most of us across this wonderful and important sector – am committed to help train and build a skilled workforce to meet the future demands of a growing population that is living longer.

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