Nurse apprentice April wins hospital's Apprentice of the Year award

  • Date

    Fri 3 Apr 20

April Downey

Nurse Degree Apprentice April Downey has won Basildon University Hospital’s Apprentice of the Year award.

April began her studies at Essex with a Foundation degree in Health Science, before starting her Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship in 2018. She was nominated for the award by her mentor, in recognition her my hard work.

Here, we asked April, pictured above on the right receiving her award, to tell us a bit more about her apprenticeship.

What does your current job involve?

I’m an Associate Nurse Practitioner, currently working on the Lionel Cousin Ward, which is for elderly patients. I work with the nurse in charge on a daily basis and provide her with a daily handover and assist her so she is able to carry out her duties.

What does winning the award mean to you?

I was very surprised to be nominated and I was thrilled to win the award. It recognises all the hard work and effort I have put in. The awards ceremony was a great night where the hospital came together to celebrate the successes of their staff.

Why did you become an apprentice?

I never thought I would ever go to University. I was a teenage mother and left school with no qualifications. I went back to college to undertake my English and Maths and began working at Basildon Hospital. After three years my ward sister recommended I apply for the Foundation Degree at Essex.

When I wanted to progress my career further, I knew as the main breadwinner in the family I could not afford to be a full-time student, but the apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to carry on earning.

What has your apprenticeship experience been like?

It has been very rewarding but it is very hard to juggle work, study and family. The time management is tough but I have met so many fantastic people along the way at different Trusts. We are such a close group and we all support each other any way we can.

What have been the highlights?

The biggest highlight for me is the experience of being at a University. I have been able to progress in my chosen career and have made my children proud and have showed them that they can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and work hard, regardless of your background or circumstances.

Is Essex a good place to do an apprenticeship?

Yes definitely. All my tutors have been fantastic and kept me going through the tough times when I thought I could no longer carry on.

What are your hopes/aspirations for the future?

I have recently been offered a job on my ward. I would love to progress to a Band 6 Ward Sister and I would eventually like to work in community nursing as it is so rewarding and something I really enjoyed on placement.

Would you recommend apprenticeships to others?

If you get the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship definitely do it! The placements I have been on as part of the apprenticeship have been really good and I have been able to experience so many things - even open-heart surgery!