Being a degree apprentice is helping me achieve my dream career in nursing

  • Date

    Wed 29 Jan 20

National Apprenticeship Week Lewis Reed

Apprenticeships are a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to gain vital skills for their chosen career; and provides employers with a valuable working force.

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we have spoken to both apprentices and employers on our schemes to find out why they are so rewarding.

When Lewis Reed left school, he didn’t have the qualifications he needed to go to university. But becoming an apprentice has helped him pave the way towards a career in nursing.

Lewis had decided from a young age that he wanted to work in healthcare.

He said: “I always wanted to work with people and look after them. My grandparents were ill due to brain operations when I was growing up and I also had a heart operation at birth, which is why I want to work in cardiac care eventually as a registered nurse.”

After school, Lewis was keen to venture out into the working world and earn money, but without the right qualifications he struggled to find a job he liked.

He said: “I got a full-time job at Marks and Spencer. I did not enjoy this at all, but stuck at it for three years. I couldn't apply to work at the hospital until I was 18 years old. That's why when I was old enough I applied to be a healthcare assistant.”

In 2008 Lewis started work as a healthcare assistant at Colchester General Hospital. His main duties were to look after patients before and after operations on the Aldham Ward (an orthopaedic and trauma ward).

During his time at the hospital, Lewis worked hard to gain the on-the-job training and credentials to apply for a Foundation Degree in 2017.

It was here that the Deputy Sister of his ward urged him to apply for a Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship with a Foundation Degree in Health Science at the University of Essex.

Being inspired for a nursing career

He said: “I didn't necessarily want to be a registered nurse, but seeing and working in the environment has inspired me to make it my career.”

Lewis enjoyed his apprenticeship so much that after graduating last summer, he signed up to a Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship last September.

He said: “I have really enjoyed being an apprentice. I cannot believe how much I have learnt over the past couple of years! My job role has changed to a Band 4 so I am progressing in my career too!”

As an apprentice at Essex, Lewis found the support and guidance he needed to grow.

“Essex is a great place to study. All the staff are so supportive. They even identified I have dyslexia and I have been fully supported in my studies enabling me to progress from Level 5 to Level 6.”

Degree apprenticeships help career progression

Through his continued work as an apprentice, Lewis has now progressed to become an associate practitioner at the Aldham Ward. He is now responsible for referrals and escalating patient care to doctors at the hospital.

With three placements lined up for 2020, including a temporary role in accident and emergency (A&E), Lewis is closer still to becoming a registered nurse in cardiac care.

He said: “Being an apprentice is challenging; but has been the best way for me to progress in my chosen career. It has given me a good insight into the reality of the job roles rather than just doing the theory side of things.”

Apply for our degree apprenticeships

As well as three apprenticeships in Health and Social care, the University also offers degree apprenticeships in Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and a Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship in Essex Business School.

For more information about apprenticeships at Essex, please email or visit our apprenticeships pages