As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2023 Saeeda, one of our Registered Nurse Apprentices, shares her apprenticeship story and gives advice to future apprentices who are considering starting their apprenticeship journey at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

How did you start your apprenticeship journey?
I started volunteering at ELHT in 2015. The main reason for this was to gain experience in nursing and to familiarise myself in an NHS setting. I also completed my English and Maths qualifications during this time in order to fulfil the requirements needed for the Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) Apprenticeship. When I felt I was ready to move on and face new challenges, I managed to get hired as a full-time Healthcare Assistant in a surgical ward. When I found out about the TNA programme, I applied, and  was fortunate enough to be selected for this apprenticeship programme. The TNA programme lasted 24 months, after which I became qualified as a Registered Nursing Associate.

I am very passionate about Critical Care Nursing which led me to take the next step of this apprenticeship which will enable me to become a Registered Nurse. This apprenticeship nursing programme clearly shows the numerous chances a person gets to develop and grow in the hospital setting, as long as you have got the drive to achieve it.

Why did you apply for an Apprenticeship?
First and foremost, an apprenticeshipSK.jpg allows you to learn in a practical way in which you are doing the work rather than learning about it from a textbook. This means that you can gain valuable experience in the environment you wish to work in. Furthermore, doing an apprenticeship means that you are able to earn while you are studying and not have to worry about covering your finances with extra shifts outside of studying. In addition, there are no student loans which mean you can achieve a degree without getting into debt.

What was the interview process like?
Initially, we did face-to-face interviews with hospital staff and university tutors. The questions mainly revolved around the NHS key skills framework to see if we were capable of meeting the core standards. Admittedly, I was nervous before the interview because it was a highly competitive course, so in order to combat this I prepared my responses beforehand, so I knew what I wanted to convey to the interviewers on the day.

What has been the hardest part of your apprenticeship?
The hardest challenge was the virtual learning due to the current COVID pandemic which has meant that all lectures have been moved online. I felt that I learn better in a classroom setting rather than at home, so it was a difficult adjustment.

What has been the most enjoyable part of your apprenticeship?
My favourite part of the apprenticeship programme was the large variety of placements we had to do, from working with District Nurses in the local community to treating patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the middle of a pandemic. The wide range of placements has allowed me to learn different skills and knowledge about various sectors of healthcare.

What skills have you learned?
I massively developed my communications skills. During the COVID pandemic, I learnt the importance of dealing with difficult situations and communicating it to relatives who never got the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. Moreover, I learnt many clinical skills such as medicines management, palliative care as well as looking after acutely and critically unwell patients which have given me experience that was easily transferable to other areas of healthcare.

Any tips for future ELHT apprentices?
·         Think about your ultimate goal.

·         Stay positive.

·         Work hard.

·         Stay on top of assignments and projects.

·         Be organised with documents and portfolios.

·         All the effort you put in will be worth it in the end.