‘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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