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Sarah Oscroft - Level 5 Nursing Associate

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

“I wanted to be able to study, whilst still earning a full-time wage. An apprenticeship enabled me to have the freedom of being able to learn, gain new skills and experience all whilst not having to sacrifice the security of full-time pay. I was looking for a challenge and it’s a great way to be supported by your employer to progress in an area you are interested in.”

What stands out about Nottingham Trent University?

“NTU is a very integrated university with the students at the heart of it. The campus in Mansfield is well equipped and specialised to our course, providing a better learning experience. The library service staff are amazing at what they do and have so much advice and time for students. It’s a great way of getting some extra support with any aspect of learning. The student union is also well established and caters to everyone covering a range of interests, and with Mansfield campus being so new it’s been lovely to see the union integrate us into the university culture. NTU is an extremely supportive place to learn.”

How do you believe this apprenticeship will affect both your current job role and future career?

“By completing this apprenticeship I will have the ability to care for patients within Kings Mill Hospital to a higher level. The apprenticeship will have given me a lot of additional knowledge and skills to take forward as I progress in my career towards being a nurse. A Nursing Associate is an up and coming role that is very much beginning to come into its own, and it’s exciting to be a part of that helping to shape the position for the future. I am proud to work for Sherwood Forest Hospitals and I’m looking forward to putting my new skills into practice. My base ward (Ward 12) have been exceptional at supporting me and pushing me through this venture.”

How would you rate the teaching and support staff on this apprenticeship?

“I’ve been very lucky throughout the duration of my degree to have such wonderful tutors and academic assessors. They’ve always been there to support me with my studies and my personal life as well. I started my apprenticeship in the midst of the covid pandemic, when all the restrictions were in place. NTU rose to the challenge and still enabled me to learn online meaning that my course was still kept on track. The staff are very knowledgeable, friendly, and understanding which has made navigating tricky areas very easy for our cohort. The library staff are incredible and nothing is too much trouble. I require them a lot throughout my course and they have always been really useful if I’ve felt stuck with something.”

How have you balanced studying alongside your professional role? How have you found the support from your employer?

“It’s definitely a juggling act and at times can feel very overwhelming. I found by being organised as much as I can, in terms of assignments and giving myself the time in advance to complete them, has helped keep my stress levels low. It’s also really important to remember to allow yourself to have a day off. I deliberately factored in days, where I would go for a long hike, or go and see friends to give myself chill time and to relieve stress.

The university is very flexible and always there to help when you need something. My employer has been brilliant. Without my base ward I would most certainly have not felt as confident as I do now as I’m nearing the end of my studies. They have supported and pushed my development so much, and I am excited to continue my journey with them. My mentor at work has truly been my rock through this process.”

What skills and experience have you gained as part of this apprenticeship? Has there been anything that you were not expecting?

“There is such a wide range of skills that I have learned during the length of my course, relating to a wide number of nursing skills. The skills I have developed will enable me to provide service users with a higher standard of integrated care, and to support the notion of outstanding care for our patients. I have really been enjoying the placements I have been going on as it’s given me an insight to numerous different areas of nursing. Some surprised me with how much I enjoyed them, particularly my Mental Health Nursing placements. I suppose the only thing I wasn’t expecting was to actually be able to study during the pandemic. The university really did adapt amazingly considering the circumstances and enabled our learning to move forward as smoothly as possible.”

What advice would you give to students considering a higher/ degree apprenticeship?

“Be prepared for some of the most difficult, frustrating yet rewarding years of your life. No it certainly isn’t easy juggling a full-time job, a full-time degree and then whatever else you might have going on in your personal life as well. But it’s certainly not impossible to achieve that goal you are wanting. With the support of the University, your employer and your cohort, it’s an enjoyable journey where you discover so much about yourself. Even in the times where it’s been difficult, I wouldn’t change this experience for anything, and I’ve certainly made some friends for life on my cohort.”

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