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Feature: Learning on the job

Date: 18 August 2022

Student nurse Julie

Working in healthcare offers huge rewards but the experience and qualifications required can seem daunting to some.

However, there are more routes to these professions than people might think. Julie McEnerney, Practice Educator at The Walton Centre, said: “If you have good communication skills, and a desire to help patients, there could be a route into nursing or healthcare for you. We have people who have changed career later in life, or those who are looking for a practical way into their dream job – it’s all about how you care, and you can’t teach that.”

While the main route into nursing is through a degree course at university, The Walton Centre also offers several other options for careers as a nurse and Healthcare Assistant (HCA).

Megan Pape and Andrew Pennington are both on the health and social care apprenticeship scheme at The Walton Centre.

Megan, 22, said: “After I finished school, I went into hairdressing, but I always wanted to work in a hospital with patients. I got a job in admin at The Walton Centre but pestered the teams for voluntary work on the wards for ages! When I was told about the new apprenticeship scheme I cried – it was like a dream come true.

“I’ve been working on Cairns Ward for six months now and I feel very blessed to be able to work with the patients. Knowing that you might their bad days better makes me want to do my very best every single day.”

Both Megan and Andrew are on a 15-month programme, spending one day a week at college and 30 hours on the ward. At the end of the course, they will qualify for a permanent position as an HCA.

Andrew, 28, said his role on Chavasse Ward gives him a lot of job satisfaction. “I was previously a porter for ten years and I really enjoyed the patient interaction.

“They’re long days, but to come away feeling you’re having a positive impact on someone’s day is an honour. My approach is to give as much kindness as you can.

“I never knew what I really wanted to do, but now I feel I’ve found the answer.”

Jade Fitzsimmons, 29, is on a trainee nursing associate programme. “After a decade as a nursery nurse, I wanted a change but to remain in the care profession. I spent six months as a care support worker at The Walton Centre before becoming an HCA and I am now training to be a Nursing Associate.

“I do four six-month rotations around wards, every day is different. The hustle and bustle of the wards and working with all the different professions is great, but most importantly I love working with the patients – they’re why I do this job.”

 

What The Walton Centre can offer you:

Further education & Apprenticeships

Colleges and universities offer a range of courses related to healthcare, including a nursing degree. Apprenticeships offer a route into hundreds of different NHS careers, including Nursing Associates and Healthcare Assistant. You can earn and learn at the same time, and come away with a range of qualifications. Employability programmes are offered in partnership with NHS Trusts to give people an insight into the role of an HCA. They are usually facilitated through the Department of Work and Pensions.

Nurse bank/agency

The Walton Centre works in partnership with NHS Professionals for bank staff and have a Care Support Worker Development Programme.

  • Summary:

    While the main route into nursing is through a degree course at university, The Walton Centre also offers several other options for careers as a nurse and Healthcare Assistant (HCA).