Thousands in the East of England take the ‘learn while you earn’ career choice of an NHS apprenticeship 

Thousands in the East of England take the ‘learn while you earn’ career choice of an NHS apprenticeship  image

Home » Thousands in the East of England take the ‘learn while you earn’ career choice of an NHS apprenticeship 

More than 2,400 new apprentices started with the NHS in the East of England last year providing more opportunities for people to build rewarding careers in the NHS, whilst boosting staffing levels.  

To coincide with National Apprenticeships Week (5-11 February) NHS England in the East of England has confirmed that 2,401 people in the region started training with the NHS during 2022/23, a 13% increase compared to pre-Covid times. 

The new apprentices include working parents looking to learn and earn alongside busy home lives, people looking for a career change and others taking their first jobs after finishing studies.   

The NHS is the nation’s biggest trainer of apprentices with around 25,000 enrolled annually and retention figures show 90% of apprentices stay in the NHS going on to have successful and rewarding careers in healthcare.  

Charlotte Hardy, Registered Nurse Associate/Nursing Degree Apprentice from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “As a busy mum of two I came into the NHS later in my career. I had a background of working in a pharmacy and never thought about nursing until my dad became very unwell.  The care he received whilst in hospital was incredible and this really had a big influence on me to start my nursing journey.  Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for the NHS to gain highly skilled professionals and they give opportunities for staff members to progress their careers in specific fields.  

“Working with other professionals and gaining lots of fantastic learning opportunities was a real positive part of apprenticeships for me, and of course earning whilst I was learning.” 

Matt Berry, Tracheostomy Support Practitioner, also from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “I started in the NHS after working in domiciliary care, supporting people in the community. I really enjoyed caring for people, so I decided that I wanted to expand my career into the NHS.  The apprenticeship route made sense for me, as I have two young children. I was able to study while working, meaning I could also bring in a wage to support my family.  

“I really enjoyed the apprenticeship, especially getting to expand on my knowledge I had gained as an assistant practitioner and having placements within different areas.” 

Penny McGonagle, Registered Nurse, also works at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and said: “I have completed two apprenticeships, first as a trainee nursing associate then as a nursing degree apprentice. I had the opportunity to learn new skills in theatres, as well as undertaking placements in various healthcare settings. 

“My journey from a theatre support worker to a trainee nursing associate and eventually completing the nursing degree apprenticeship program was a positive experience where I gained invaluable experiences and a strong support system within the hospital.“   

Claudia Mair, Apprentice Cardiac Physiologist  from Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust  said: “I studied sports therapy at university which included a physiology module. I found it really interesting, but I never dreamt this would be my current job! After university I started a job in cardiac rehab as a healthcare assistant (HCA) and this is where my love for cardiology started.   

“A friend had completed the NHS apprenticeship scheme and highly recommended it. I looked online where I saw the Cardiac Physiologist opportunity. Through this job I get on-the-job experience which was highly important to me and has definitely helped my progress and complete a degree.  

“I help provide patient-centred care to help find out why they are unwell and help lead them onto in the correct treatment. I enjoy feeling a part of a team and having the opportunity to ask questions. This helps develop my learning and makes me feel ready for when I qualify. I also enjoy being able to apply some of my knowledge from university straight into the job.” 

Lauren-Jayne Randall, Level 4 Cardio Respiratory Apprentice from North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust said: “I started my career within the NHS as a school leaver, doing my A-levels as a nursing cadet. I then spent time as a senior health care assistant working closely with high dependency respiratory patients, where my passion for respiratory started. I moved into emergency medicine but missed working with respiratory patients so moved to Respiratory Investigations where I have developed my knowledge of healthcare sciences. It was here that an opportunity for the apprenticeship arose.    

“My role can be so varied encompassing both respiratory and cardiac diagnostics allowing me to take my knowledge across from one practice to another. Patient contact is important to me and so I enjoy having the ability to learn while keeping this contact.” 

Phil Carver, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development at the NHS in the East of England said: “During National Apprenticeship Week we are celebrating some fantastic apprentices across the region that are beginning their NHS careers, as well as colleagues who have used apprenticeships to develop their skills.

“The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan sets how we will ensure the NHS has the workforce it needs for the future. A key theme in the plan is to train staff, growing the workforce through increasing education and training, increasing the number of apprenticeships and alternative routes into health care roles.”

Apprenticeships such as these form a key part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, which sets the ambition for 22 percent of all NHS clinical staff to be trained via an apprenticeship by 2031/32. This plan, which is backed with over £2.4 billion to fund additional education and training places over five years, looks to ensure that, alongside reforms in training and recruitment, we support our staff to enjoy more flexible careers – working in ways that suit them.

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