Emma-Jean is currently studying a higher and degree apprenticeship in Applied Physiotherapy at UWE Bristol. Here’s what she had to say about higher and degree apprenticeships.
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Question 1: What motivated you to become a higher or degree apprentice?
I’ve been working in therapy services in the NHS for 10 years as a support worker, initially as a band 3 in the community for four years and as a Band 4 in the acute sector for the last six years. My colleagues have encouraged me to develop my career and challenge myself. I strive to deliver the best care and feel I owe it to myself, my team, and my patients to be the best possible version of myself – hopefully as a practising physiotherapist.
Question 2: What skills have you gained during your apprenticeship which will benefit your career development?
So far, as I’m only at the end of year 1, I’ve gained significant fundamental knowledge in anatomy, assessment, and treatment skills, which I’ve been able to demonstrate and evidence in my day-to-day role. I’ve also covered the basics of physiology, allowing a better understanding of general health when reading patient notes. The end of year 1 has introduced us to different concepts and models of care within physiotherapy and has encouraged us to question the model that we follow in our day-to-day roles. We’re encouraged to consider whether there are opportunities for us in service development and in patient-centred care, which is in line with NHS guidelines and physiotherapy standards. We’ll build on this knowledge as we progress through the remaining years of the course.
Question 3: What are the top three things you would recommend to someone thinking about becoming a higher or degree apprentice?
1. Get organised – coming from someone who is very organised, it’s chaotic and overwhelming at times when working full-time as well. Familiarise yourself with the university and work-related learning resources as soon as possible, talk to student reps/other apprentices and ask anything – no question is stupid. Make sure you know how to find help if it’s needed.
2. Start planning your spare time from the start of the course. And establish a regular routine that works for you. ‘Spare’ time is a rarity when you’re also working full-time and trying to live a normal life.
3. Surround yourself with people that support your journey – it gets tough at times, and you need that work/life balance and a pick me up every now and then. Make sure you dedicate down time to maintain wellbeing and a good mental health. Forge connections with your peers as soon as possible, a shared experience and understanding can really help make sense of a situation. Also consider becoming a student rep so your voice is heard, and you can help implement change.
Question 4: What are your future goals on completion of your apprenticeship?
I aspire to gain clinical experience by rotating through services, which I believe will be the case within the acute sector at the end of my apprenticeship. I hope to progress to a leadership role, whether as a clinical lead and part of a team (for which there would be much competition in our trust) or supporting the development and training needs of the workforce. I love the specialty I work within (neurosurgery and neurology) but I’m open to exploring other areas. I hope to find somewhere that makes me feel I’m making a positive impact on patients, as much as I feel I am now. I only wish to feel valued in the role I hold – if that’s the case then every day at work is a good one.
Question 5: Tell us a bit about your experience whilst doing your apprenticeship at UWE Bristol? (E.g. have you overcome any challenges?)
My first year has been a journey of highs and lows. I’m extremely pleased with my module and placement results but acknowledge it was a challenging journey to achieve them. I’ve learned resilience and have needed to know when to be kind to myself and not to create too much pressure. The most challenging aspect so far has been time management: the placement team, my peers, family, and friends have been more supportive than I could have imagined and I’m so grateful. I feel ready to tackle the start of year 2 in January but first it is time for a well-deserved break.
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