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Studying for a Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Apprenticeship during a pandemic

This week is National Apprenticeship week, so Kim told us about how her studies have been going.

Why did you want to do the apprenticeship?

When I first joined Virgin Care, I worked in the school health immunisations team but when I took on a new role as School Health Support Worker, I was encouraged by my manager to start the Healthcare Assistant Practitioner apprenticeship. I was a teacher previously, so I was keen to use the apprenticeship to develop whilst working in this new sector. With a young family it was important to earn whilst I learned, so the apprenticeship seemed a good opportunity.

What did your team and line manager think about you starting your apprenticeship?

My local team were excited about the opportunity to enhance the team and saw the potential role an Assistant Practitioner could play in supporting the service. At first the school nurses in the team didn’t realise what level of skills I would be developing through the apprenticeship, but they began to see how much it related it their own nurse training and how I could support them in their roles. The nurses in my team have been able to share their skills and knowledge with me. For example, they helped me learn more about anatomy and physiology in children, and helped me prepare for the presentations which form part of my programme.

Have you taken on any new roles and responsibilities since taking your apprenticeship?

Childhood obesity is an increasing health issue in the children and families I work with. Working on a childhood obesity presentation for my apprenticeship has helped me to better support the team and service users to understand and support positive lifestyle changes. Another example of how learning from my apprenticeship has impacted on my job role came during lockdown for COVID-19. I was able to be redeployed to the ADHD clinic to undertake baseline assessments for the community paediatric team using my newly developed clinical skills to take blood pressures and body mass index (BMI) measurements.

Has your apprenticeship helped you to be feels more autonomous or confident in your role?

Yes definitely; the new skills and knowledge I have gained have given me more belief in myself and increased my confidence to apply for a new role within Virgin care’s Children’s Continuing Care Team using the transferrable skills gained so far in my apprenticeship.

How did your assessor support you with your learning? Were they approachable? Did they meet your expectations?

I have always felt well supported both personally and academically by Clare, my trainer/assessor. She has challenged me academically even though I had already studied at degree level. I meet Clare for regular Teams meetings and ad hoc tutorials. Through all the challenges of COVID with its move to a more virtual world, this has been really helpful.

What was the thing you most enjoyed about your apprenticeship?

The opportunity to apply the things you have learned and see what impact you can have on your service and my family. I think it is positive for my children to see me studying. I have always been nervous about exams. However, the programme and what I
have learned about technology has given me strategies to cope. I now use YouTube clips, apps, post it and revision notes.

How do you hope this will impact your customers/patients?

I feel I now have a clearer rationale for why things are done in practice and this gives patients confidence in me and my service. Knowing how to look for answers rather than say I don’t know will also help me better support my service users.

What are your plans for the next 5 years?

Getting the student experience through TLE’s connection with Derby has provided a good foundation for developing my role towards registration. Initially I hope to be AP in children’s community care team but hopefully in 5 years I will be well on my way to becoming a nurse by using what I have learned in this apprenticeship to shorten the four year nursing degree to two years. Perhaps I can do this by doing another apprenticeship with TLE!

Do you have a chosen career pathway?

Yes, I want to become a Children’s Nurse and I could do this through the apprenticeship route.

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