‘A fantastic opportunity to develop my career’

May 19, 2019

Megan O’Connell.

A SPECIALIST mental health charity is highlighting apprenticeships
as a route into working in healthcare.

St Andrew’s Healthcare is part of the Northamptonshire Health and Care Apprenticeship
Partnership, a group of leadinghealthcare providers in the county
that has been marking Mental Health Awareness Week.

NHCAP offers a wide variety of apprenticeship career pathways in
healthcare including clinical and non-clinical roles, from nursing, through to
occupational therapy, pharmacy, science, digital analyst, administration,
accountancy and HR roles as well as others.

The roles are ideal for people starting their careers, as well as
for individuals looking to advance and progress into senior roles. Apprentices
can enjoy on the job training and build their knowledge and experience, whilst
studying and being part of the workforce.

Apprenticeships have an
important role to play in helping us attract new talent into our workforce and
in enabling individuals to learn new knowledge combined with practical skills, while
at the same time getting paid,” says the charity’s learning and development
manager Vicky Wheatley.

“Successful
apprenticeship programmes also lead to nationally recognised qualifications and
in some cases professional career registration, providing a unique
stepping-stone into a chosen career.

“It’s a common misconception that
apprenticeships are for younger people. The span across a range of levels from
entry into a career at Level 2 through to Level 7 MBAs. Apprenticeships are in fact
open to people of all ages and can provide an excellent learning and
development opportunity for current staff, so they can progress into senior
roles or even change career direction.” 

Megan O’Connell is an estates administrator at St Andrew’s Healthcare
and recently won the Apprentice of the Year award and Values Award at the Apprenticeships
Awards hosted by Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership. 

She has worked at St Andrew’s
Healthcare for almost five years, starting as a project co-ordinator before
moving into her current role. Her main responsibilities include providing
administrative support and managing confidential data. She also works in the
compliance team, ensuring the buildings and equipment meet regulations and are safe
for patients.

She has recently completed a
Business Administration apprenticeship and completed other apprenticeships
before joining St Andrew’s Healthcare. For Megan, apprenticeships have given
her the opportunity to progress her career in an environment she has always
wanted to work.

“After leaving school I started
off doing apprenticeships in health and beauty, but I decided this wasn’t for
me. I had always wanted to work at St Andrew’s Healthcare, as my mum was a
mental health nurse here and I wanted to work in a caring role. When a job came
up for a project co-ordinator I applied and got it.

“I wasn’t actively looking to do another apprenticeship but last year my line manager told me that there were a number of apprenticeships being offered by the charity, so I decided to do a business administration apprenticeship. This involved weekly studying online every week and meeting with my trainer once a month.”

Megan completed her apprenticeship while working full time and
received great support from her employer, regional trainer and colleagues. She
says she really enjoyed doing it and has learnt lots of new skills, such as
managing workloads and money, and to think more like a business manager.

“The apprenticeship enabled me to learn new skills and opened my
mind. It’s boosted my confidence and the confidence of the people around me,
including my manager and my colleagues. Without on the job training like
apprenticeships there is a real danger that you can stagnate in a role or
become complacent.

“For me it’s been a fantastic opportunity to develop my career but also personally and to focus on my career plan.”

Megan has been promoted to a new role in early June as a serious incident senior administrator
in St Andrew’s quality and governance department. She won the Apprentice of the
Year 2019 award because of her outstanding achievements, qualities and
behaviours.

“I was delighted to win the
award and hope that I can inspire others to do apprenticeships,” she says. “I
believe the apprenticeship helped me to get promoted, as it shows my commitment
to learning and development. I’m excited to be starting this new job and would
definitely consider other apprenticeship opportunities in the future.

“Charities like ours and the
NHS are re-thinking how they encourage more people into the profession and
apprenticeships are one route for those that want to train on the job.”

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