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Apprenticeship success stories

Chloe Connolly
Complaints Co-ordinator
Started as an Apprentice Administrator in 2017

I joined the Trust in February 2017 as an apprentice within the patient experience team. I provided administrative support to the Patient and Governor Engagement Lead and the Patient Advice and Liaison Service which helped build my confidence in speaking with sometimes concerned and upset people over the phone. I provided advice to patients, relatives or their carers in respect of any concerns they have and respond to enquiries made by telephone and email.

In November 2017, I started providing administrative support to the complaints team. During this time, I further developed my communication skills as well as my organisational skills as I was assisting in arranging meetings with patients. I have gained so much knowledge and confidence when it comes to dealing with people and about how the NHS works.

I finished my Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship in February 2018 and gained a substantive role within the team. I quickly enrolled on a level 4 diploma in business and administration course which I completed in November 2019. I am currently completing a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship, which I feel is helping to broaden my knowledge and skills and ultimately benefitting my work.

In February 2020, I was successful in securing another role within the complaints team, in which I now facilitate complaints meetings and manage my own caseload of complaints.

Matthew Potts
Cancer MDT & Data Assistant
Started as an Apprentice Administrator in 2017

I started my apprenticeship within the NHS after deciding I needed a new career path. I gained some valuable skills within my previous work experience but wanted to develop new skills to enable me to gain a route into a new career in admin within the NHS. I settled into the team to begin with and found all staff to be an excellent source of support. The environment I was in opened me up to a vast range of opportunities to develop myself, in many areas, including data management, organisation, as well as exposure to recruitment and interviewing skills. The Apprenticeship route really suited me, and I was pleased to be able to gain a nationally recognised qualification whilst gaining the necessary experience to lead me into a permanent role.

Following the success of my Level 2 completion, I immediately applied for the Level 3 Business Admin NVQ. I was able to apply a lot of my knowledge from the level 2 to be able to complete all the workbooks assigned to me whilst being able to learn new aspects of the course. During the course I had to perform a Project in which could be applied to my line of work in which would benefit the Trust in a positive way. I decided to try and improve certain aspects of a patients’ experience when attending the hospital, to try and combat the growing number of people not attending their clinic appointments. Working with my office based team I was able to gather data which then could be shown in higher manager meeting to help them improve the service.

At the latter end of the NVQ course I was able to gain a higher position role within the hospital. Moving from a Band 2 Admin Support in one office to a Band 3 Cancer MDT Data Assistant, this provided a fresh new role to be able to apply my skills and knowledge that I gained through the Level 3 NVQ. Within my new role I was supported by the new team to complete the course and I was able to gain a distinction grade in Business Administration Level 3.

Soon after I took a rest from courses and concentrated on being more efficient in my new role, I then was offered to take on a Level 4 Business Admin course in which I am currently doing.

Jade Tromans
Student Pharmacy Technician
Started as a Pharmacy Apprentice in 2018

I’m part of the pharmacy department and day to day my job role varies but in a nutshell I can be on the wards doing their stock orders, in the dispensary labelling and assembling prescriptions for patients and working on reception answering calls and taking in prescriptions for patients and ward staff, or in the stores area picking stock for wards and receiving medicine deliveries.

I started my Level 2 apprenticeship in Pharmacy service skills and Pharmaceutical science in October 2018. I have also recently started my Level 3 apprenticeship (Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practice for Pharmacy Technicians) which is a two-year course.

My experience so far has been a positive one overall, the staff across the Trust are friendly and the pharmacy department is like a family, everyone is willing to work as part of a team to deliver the best care for our service users. Of course sometimes working in a busy Trust can be challenging and balancing a full time job and college work is sometimes tricky, but manageable. I get a lot of support from my college assessors and line manager to make sure I’m on top of everything. My college assessors go above and beyond to make sure the work they set out is manageable, clear, and the online zoom lessons (obviously due to Covid) have been a great success so far.

I chose to do an apprenticeship because I wanted to start a career I could be proud of, I feel coming to the Trust and doing these courses I can confidently say I am proud of what I do, additionally, the skills I have gained are plenty – my work ethic has improved, my communication skills too which are vital for working in a pharmacy/hospital environment  to name a few. I have learned that I have a “can-do” attitude and I’m good at boosting team morale when things may be stressful and that I work well under pressure. My future aspirations are to complete my Level 3 course and then hopefully once I’m a qualified pharmacy technician, have a successful application for a Band 4 Pharmacy Technician role within the Trust.

Ellie Beardsmore
Support Secretary – Trauma & Orthopaedics
Started as an Apprentice Administrator in 2019

I started a Business & Administration Apprenticeship (Level 3) in September of 2019, within the Trauma and Orthopaedics Department at Russells Hall Hospital. The programme enabled me to grow as in individual, learn new skills and gain responsibility. The variation of the occupation encouraged opportunity within the department and gave me a chance to develop myself, given learning skills that I had not been required to withhold before. Just some positive experiences I have enrolled in are; organising an away day for the department, working as a team leader in projects to enable growth and change within the department to find more efficient ways of working and taking part in training to encourage new learning and new skills as an individual. Fortunately, I have been able to work within different aspects of the department clinically and non-clinically across three different sites at the Dudley Group. While gaining these wonderful experiences on the job, I undertook the business and administration course with Walsall College, with which I had a great experience. Throughout the course I felt massively supported by my college tutor, with whom I had a virtual meeting with every two weeks, and my work mentor who worked very closely with myself and my college tutor. I finished my college course in just over a year, with the full support of my college and work tutors.

I gained and developed many skills throughout my apprenticeship. Communication, IT skills and adaptation are just some of the skills I have worked on and developed throughout the apprenticeship. During my apprenticeship and working across the three sites at the Dudley Group, I have had to communicate, adapt and use IT skills with all aspects of colleagues, patients and the wider community (for example GP practices). Although I developed many skills, I also gained new skills that I worked on throughout the duration of the course. Just one of the new skills I gained was training to be a loggist for the Trust. I have been given many opportunities to develop myself and skills within the department, a few examples of these are; leading the Covid swabbing project in the department, attending the departmental governance meetings, taking part and leading with projects and undergoing work experience in different departments in the Trust.

However, I had to face some challenges while working as an apprentice. One challenge I faced was organising the department away day as I had to organise an event for a large group of people and ensure all funding was in place for this to take place and the day be efficient for purpose. Although challenging, as I had to ensure I had fully organised the day and obtained quotes and booking documents. As a result of this, I gained a really positive experience enabling me to develop and gain many organising skills. One very different challenge I faced was being redeployed to Corbett Outpatient Centre within the Dudley Group. During this time, I had to undergo a change in job roles and responsibilities. However, from this I took away great experience, and many developed adaptation skills. Therefore, throughout the apprenticeship I developed and gained many skills that I still use today within my occupation that was lead from starting as an apprentice.

On completion of my apprenticeship, I was offered to begin working as a Medical Secretary within Elective Orthopaedic Ward, B1. The great opportunity of working and training as an apprentice has lead me to develop as an individual and within my role within the department, gain opportunities and take on many responsibilities. Therefore, from a perspective of my own while working as an apprentice, an apprenticeship is a great way to start your career and develop many new skills while earning a salary.

Harry Morgan
Simulation Centre Technician
Started as an Apprentice Administrator in 2017

I started my level 2 apprenticeship in business and administration in March 2017. After that I continued with my level 3 in March 2018, and then eventually started my level 4 qualification in June 2019.

I started my apprenticeship in the Clinical Skills and Simulation Departments. However from August 2020, I work full time in the Simulation Centre. My roles in both Clinical Skills and Simulation included setting up and clearing away equipment for courses, ensuring all administration duties were prepared and ready for when they were being used and also helping with the general day-to-day running of both departments.

My colleagues and managers were all extremely supportive whilst carrying out my apprenticeship work and ensured that I had sufficient time to complete it throughout the apprenticeship programme. I found my role very interesting and enjoyed interacting with many different people on a daily basis through doing different tasks in my job. It was beneficial to me to learn how to use the bespoke systems in my role and gain an understanding of how they worked for the department I was in and the specific job I was doing.

Whilst doing my apprenticeship, a challenge I faced early on was trying to juggle between fulfilling my role in my two departments, and also keeping up with the classes and coursework I was undertaking to gain my qualification. However after recognising this challenge, I worked on my time management skills and was able to adjust my way of working to accommodate everything I needed to achieve.

The reason I chose to go into an apprenticeship was because I believe I am not the type of learner who learns best by reading and studying. I prefer to physically do things and learn from my own mistakes and other people around me. I also wanted to learn whilst earning money, and an apprenticeship is a great way to do this as it gives you experience of holding a fulltime job and you gain a qualification at the end of it.

I built on and gained a lot of skills whilst being an apprentice. Two main skills I developed on in this time were team work and communication. As I was speaking, calling and emailing a lot of different people every day, this helped me know how to communicate and work with others effectively. Through experience of working and coming across problems that needed resolving quickly and effectively, I also built on my problem solving skills and can now address different types of problems in a better way.

During my time being an apprentice I learnt more about what skills I have as an employee and what I can bring to tasks that I am now faced with. I have developed a better understanding of how I work best and in what kind of working environments I am more likely to succeed in.

I am currently coming to the end of my level 4 qualifications and plan on building on my career with the NHS. I am also looking at starting a management course once my level 4 in business and administration is complete.

Holly Robinson
Assistant Directorate Manager
Started as an Apprentice Administrator in 2013

After leaving school, and subsequently Sixth Form, I joined the NHS as an Apprentice in 2013. I did have a number of GCSE’s and A-Levels at this point however I understand this isn’t essential for most entry level apprenticeship programmes.

Following my 12 month apprenticeship I managed to secure a permanent position as Administration Assistant within the Discharge Team where I then completed two additional NVQ qualifications at levels 3 and 4. After spending a couple of years in this role, I progressed to the role of Personal Assistant to the Director of Operations, Deputy Director of Operations and Chief of Medicine.

Eight years later from joining as an Apprentice, I am now on secondment as Assistant Directorate Manager for Elderly Care, Stroke, Rheumatology, Neurology and GU Medicine!

I would 100% recommend the NHS apprentice programme to anyone looking for a career in the NHS. It is the perfect way to earn as you learn and there are always further opportunities throughout your journey.

Charley Ames-De-Jesus
Electronic Rostering Administrator
Started as an Apprentice Administrator in 2019

I started my apprenticeship in the Bank Staff and E-Rostering department at the beginning of December 2019 before Covid hit the UK.  My general workload compromised of adding new starters to HealthRoster, one of our main systems in the Hospital, adjusting information for staff on the system and making sure that the information stays up to date.

I also dealt with queries to do with pay, trained staff on either HealthRoster or Employee Online, adding additional shifts to the system, annual leave queries and I help set up new rosters on the system. My workload came from a shared inbox as well as phone calls, we rarely received any paperwork but when we did it was generally new starter forms, change forms or leavers forms.

When Covid became an issue, my department helped set up vaccination centres on the system, and worked with site leads to make sure they had enough staff working and helped them fill any staff gaps. This meant I had to learn things quicker and adapt to the increase of work we received.

My general experience as an apprentice was great, and also hard work.  I had to balance work life and college work all at once, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. My team is amazing, and I have formed some great friendships.

Before I did my apprenticeship I was at university. As I had just moved to the UK and transferred to another University here, I had to start from scratch so in reality I had already done 3 years of university. I started getting bored with Uni life and I changed my mind on what I wanted to do, so decided to take a break and start working. It was the best decision I could have made. I learnt more being out in the real world than I would have in university. I learnt how to really multitask, and more about hospital life and how it functions – it was a real eye opener!

While I don’t think I will spend many years working in my current position it has given me so many opportunities to grow and learn more about the job and myself and how far I can push myself.

Jordan Probert
Project Worker
Started as an Apprentice Administrator in 2018

I started my apprenticeship in the Research & Development department in September 2018 as an administrator.

My role involved the day-to-day running of the department with tasks such as sorting out any deliveries, general filing, delivering post and helping the research nurses complete any admin tasks. It also involved a lot of data entry for the clinical trials such as all the finances, both incoming and outgoing, appointment dates for patients, using many different databases, finding out general information on patients and producing clinic lists.

I also worked in different departments during this time, these included:

Cardiology: Using different electronic data captures to complete their data, ordering and sending back their notes, general filing and also shadowing sessions which included a day in the Lab watching a procedure.

Cancer research: Different shadowing sessions which also gave me my first experience of using Sunrise. I also helped with the set up the systems and logistics for a certain clinical trial.

Pharmacy: I did a lot of closing out of different clinical trials, document management including redacting confidential details, calendar creation and I also learnt how to do their drug accountability and destruction.

I chose an apprenticeship because my previous jobs were all manual labour and factory orientated, so I had no qualifications in regards to an office role or anything to do with admin and clerical.  I chose the NHS as they have a diverse range in vacancies and many different career paths and progression routes which interested me.

My experience of the apprenticeship program was very positive, I was working with a supportive team that also gave me freedom to complete my work, allowed me to attend any workshops I needed, allowed me to go and do any training which was relevant to my role, and also trained me on any systems that I wanted to learn for the future.

My 2 assessors from Walsall college were great and helped me at every opportunity, they were always on hand for any queries, and I met with them regularly to discuss any work, problems, future goals, career aspirations and anything else I needed.

I learnt many skills that range from using many of the NHS systems such as OASIS, Sunrise, EDGE, REDcap, NHS supply chain and I.B solutions to creating a network of relationships with many different stakeholders within the trust.

In regards to myself, I now know that anything is possible, you just have to reach out and take it.

I was apprehensive about starting a new career as an apprentice at the age of 27 because I left a very well paid job where I had gone from teaching new starters and apprentices, to now being one myself. But it soon became the best thing I had ever done, instead of working manual labour jobs and being in a factory for the rest of my life, I know feel like I have a job that is more like a career and there is a possibility of more training and progression. If anyone was in a situation like myself, I would now always give the advice to take the jump and change, even if you have to start from the bottom.

My career aspirations are to work my way up the banding system to as high as I can possibly go, I have already gone from an apprentice to a band 4 within 3 years and I feel like I still have more to give. I have yet to decide my exact career path and speciality, but I feel that maybe management or delivering training may be a positive step for me, just because I feel more of a social aspect rather than data handling is better suited for me.

I also want to start a degree which I have applied to do in September 2022, this is a HNC in business as I feel it is very diverse and doesn’t limit me to a certain speciality, this will also help to further my progression and put myself in a better position for future, higher roles within the trust.

Laura Williams
Diabetes Team at Russells Hall and Community
Currently completing – Trainee Nursing Associate Apprenticeship

I chose to undertake the nurse associate apprenticeship because it allowed me to learn on the job, fitted in with my personal circumstances and suited my learning needs as an adult especially being an adult learner and being out of education for a long period of time.

I commenced my nurse associate programme in September 2019, and I am currently at the beginning of my second year. My host placement is within the diabetes team at Russell Hall Hospital but I also work within the community diabetes team at Brierley Hill Health and Social Care Centre.

My role varies daily but I work closely with the diabetes specialist podiatrists, where I am involved in wound care, MDT foot clinics and home visits. As my role has developed, I have become involved in education in diabetes and developed my knowledge further as a nurse associate. The main challenge that I have had to overcome is getting use to academic work as I have been out of education for a while, but also having to adapt to the new way the course is delivered due to COVID 19.

During the course I have learnt new clinical skills, but also better time management and have become more resilient as a person. Overall, I have learnt than I am more capable than I first envisioned and in the future this course will help me develop myself and eventually help me qualify as a band 5 Nurse.

Leah Westwood
Paediatric Dietician Department
Currently completing – Business Administration Level 3 Apprenticeship

I started my business admin apprenticeship with the Trust in November 2020. I haven’t been here very long, but I feel really settled and happy. Before starting my apprenticeship late last year, I had never really considered doing an apprenticeship. Now I wouldn’t look back. I’m loving coming into work every day carrying out admin roles whilst also spending several hours each week doing my college work.

I work in the paediatric dietician department, based at Russells Hall Hospital. The paediatric team I work in is relatively small, consisting of four members of staff. In my role I carry out many different tasks. My role includes: general office tasks such as printing, scanning and photocopying etc; maintaining patient files ensuring they are up-to-date, organised accordingly in the filing system, and archiving discharged patients; sending written communication (emails, letters and text messages) to both parents and other medical personnel involved in the care of patients; stock checks of dietary products of the department and hospital, placing orders, taking invoices etc; booking patient appointments and sending appropriate confirmation; managing the database; and dealing with new patient referrals. Since starting my role, I have developed my skills and independence in these areas with support from my manager who is willing to help me whenever.

I have really enjoyed my apprenticeship so far. I enjoy coming into work, seeing members of the team and carrying out my general day-to-day tasks. I love working in a paediatric department, with patients ranging from neonates to teenagers. My experience has so far has met my expectations and more. Staff in the department are really welcoming and only too willing to help me, which has made me feel settled. I’ve learnt so much in such a short period of time, not only from an admin side, but also on a personal level.

In the future I hope to have an admin role within the NHS, building upon the skills and experience I will have achieved over this apprenticeship programme. I hope to work in a paediatric department as it is an area I enjoy. My manager has said that in the future a role may become available for me to still have an admin role in the department, but also learn some clinical skills and have more interaction with patients, which is something I’d be interested in.

Elleigh Underhill
Workforce Information Team
Currently completing – Business Administration Level 3 Apprenticeship

I started with the Trust in September 2019 as an Apprentice Administration Assistant in the Staff Health and Wellbeing Department. Whilst in this role I supported the day to day operations of the department, providing administrative and telephone support to the service.

In February 2020 I joined the Workforce Information team where my role was based around producing information on a number of factors such as sickness absence and mandatory training.

In March 2020 in line with the Trust response to Covid-19 I was asked to join the centralised Covid Workforce team. In this role we initially focused on centralised sickness absence reporting which included speaking to managers/staff about isolation periods as well as assisting in the production of a daily ‘Sit. Rep.’ detailing the number of staff absent each day due to Covid-19. I was also required to keep up to date with the ever changing national guidance around isolation and shielding periods and feeding back to management in case we needed to change reporting procedure.

In September 2020 the team took responsibility for centralising the administrative function of staff Covid testing. This involved creating new processes, streamlining those in place where needed and ensuring rapid access to tests and results where required. This entailed contacting individuals who had reported absent, ascertaining the absence circumstances (i.e. symptomatic, track and trace etc.), determining if a test is required and subsequently booking a test where appropriate.

I have faced a number of challenges during my apprenticeship. One challenge was having to learn how to use a number of different computer systems quickly (such as Allocate/E-rostering) in order to make sure we could accurately and efficiently report on absence.

During this time I have gained a much more in-depth understanding as to how our hospital works. Thanks to the apprenticeship scheme I have been able to contribute to my local hospital and learn many new skills along the way. I would recommend the apprenticeship scheme to anybody who is looking to kick-start their career in the NHS.

I have been lucky enough to be able to forge new relationships with clinical and non-clinical colleagues alike and I hope I have been able to help them in some way during their experience of this pandemic.

Megan Rogers-Thomas
Ward B3
Currently completing – Trainee Nursing Associate Apprenticeship

I started as a Clinical Support Worker on Ward B3 straight after doing my A levels. I had always wanted to do nursing and a band 4 Trainee Nurse Associate opportunity arose so I jumped at the chance at hands on care whilst still getting my degree.

I will go onto do my top-up year which will make me a band 5 qualified Nurse.

I love my job, my patients and the lovely staff on the ward.  Fantastic opportunity.

Ann Bills
Programme Manager for AAA Screening
Currently completing – Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship Level 6

I am completing the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) with Walsall College and the University of Worcestershire. I enrolled in February 2019 and am just entering my third and final year. I didn’t believe that I would ever be given the chance to study a degree level qualification whilst working full time so was thrilled when I was given this opportunity.

I am the Programme Manager for the Black Country Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme which is an NHS England / Improvement commissioned screening service and is part of the Black Country Vascular Centre based at Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust. AAA Screening is offered to men in the year they turn 65 and the Black Country programme invites around 4500 men each year and also offers surveillance to 280 men who have been found to have an AAA. Clinics are community-based and my service covers Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton. I manage the service and lead a team of Screening Technicians and Administrators. I am also trained as a Screening Technician.

I have a career of over 35 years in the public sector and have managed teams for many of those years. To be able to complete the CMDA has been an opportunity which I greatly appreciate and which will consolidate my career history and skills with a recognised qualification. To be able to study the theory behind leadership and management has been interesting and I have developed my knowledge and put theory in to practice.

I have found that I have developed my skills around self-reflection and self-awareness and this has helped me with leadership skills. On-line resources such as self-assessment tools have given me insight in to what kind of leader and manager I am and how I prefer to learn. Completing 360-degree feedback has also been an interesting and valuable tool. I have quite a collection of leadership and management books now too!

I have faced challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic which have had an impact on my time and capacity at work. As a student, I have had to adapt to on-line learning rather than classroom based lectures. Assessments which include presentations have also been delivered on-line which can be quite nerve-wracking when relying on strong internet connections! I have found however that the pandemic has given me a great deal of opportunity to put my learning and theory in to practice and these unprecedented times have enabled me to think more innovatively and given me chances to use project management skills.

Having never studied at this level previously, with a Level 4 Diploma in Business and Administration being my highest qualification, I was unsure how successful I would be with this programme and if I would be adept at writing at this academic level. I have surprised myself and have received fantastic feedback from my tutors. I would like to achieve a first class degree.

I have met some wonderful people who are studying the CMDA with me, from very diverse backgrounds and employers. Working alongside my student peers has been invaluable to my learning and development and I’m sure we will remain friends after we graduate.

Following graduation, I would like to complete a further qualification possibly in coaching and mentoring. I definitely have the bug for higher education and hope I can use my study to further my career path within the NHS.

Mandy Hamilton
COPD Specialist Nursing Team
Completed – Business Administration Level 4 Apprenticeship in 2019

I commenced the NVQ 4 in 2016 after discussing the qualification with my line, gaining her full support. As a mature student it was initially tough going having to recall methods of learning and writing up and referencing. I was nearing 50 and felt I needed to challenge myself and prove to myself I wasn’t too old to learn new tricks.

I work within the COPD Specialist Nursing team where we deliver education and training mainly to Primary Care GP Practices and writing up and designing Treatment Guidelines and Pathways to support Primary and Secondary Care. My role developed from administrative role to administrative, facilitative and coordination, with certain aspects of the roles include managing systems.

I received exceptional support from my tutor at Walsall College, who was always on hand to answer any queries and even supportive when I felt like throwing in the towel. He guided me where needed or gave me tools to find my way.

Unfortunately, midway, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and I needed to defer the course to care for her. Her dying wish was for me to complete and graduate. This gave me the drive and determination to grant this and I managed to complete 6 weeks prior to losing her battle in 2019, so she knew I had passed and finished the course. On Graduation Day I had mixed emotions; proud of my achievements, saddened as my mother was not there to see the end result of the hours and hours of hard work I put into gaining this qualification.

The reason for choosing the Apprenticeship allowed me to continue in my role without interfering in my day to day work, but pick up skills and knowledge that enhanced my role allowing the understanding & reasons behind actions or requests within my daily activities. It gave me opportunities to go behind the scenes within different areas of business administration. It gave me a greater insight to a number areas such as Human Resources and even implications of estate management and what our responsibilities within this area are.

Even though I spent many hours reading and researching each unit and apart from several meltdowns along the way, I actually enjoyed the opportunity of taking time out just for myself away from the normal busy day to day life, to achieve the qualification and graduate at my age!

Currently I haven’t thought of any future challenges due to working in Respiratory and the current climate, pandemic and demands we are all working under. Maybe once we are out the other side – never say never!