I have always wanted to progress in my nursing career after being a healthcare assistant.

Thomas Beresford - apprentice in nurse uniform
Thomas Beresford
Nursing Associate Apprenticeship
Thomas completed his nursing apprenticeship in 2020 and is now responsible for groups and patients within A&E, as well as a Clinical Educator at the University of Sheffield. Read on to find out more about his experiences studying his apprenticeship at the University of Sheffield.
Thomas Beresford - apprentice in nurse uniform

What was the name of your degree Apprenticeship?

I studied the Trainee Nursing Associate course at the University of Sheffield commencing in June 2018 and qualifying in June 2020

What attracted you to the Apprenticeship

I have always wanted to progress in my nursing career after being a healthcare assistant in both Intensive Care and Accident and Emergency prior to doing the course I always wanted to improve my knowledge base and clinical skills. I have always wanted to go to university to gain a qualification however I was unable to previously. The apprenticeship scheme worked well for me as I was able to still work full time and gain a qualification at the same time. 

How do you feel the Apprenticeship has helped you develop your employability skills?

The apprenticeship has helped me up-skill on both my clinical skills and evidence based knowledge around why we do what we do. It has allowed me to continue to learn and develop my skills whilst remaining clinical for a large percentage of the time. The apprenticeship allowed me to stay in A&E where I feel it helped me to gain valuable experience.

What did you particularly enjoy about the Apprenticeship?

I enjoyed learning how to write in an academic way and also have to research and evidence this following a structured tool. The academic side offers you the chance to ask questions in regards to why we do what we do and learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body. 

Clinically although at first I wasn’t too keen on going onto other wards and different placement areas, I found that going to these different areas are very beneficial as they all offer a different style/field of nursing. Also the learning opportunities gained from these placements are invaluable.

Please tell us more about your role and responsibilities

On graduation I have returned back to UECC as a qualified nursing associate. I am responsible for a group and patients whether this being in minors/majors or Resus; here I will accept handover from the ambulance crew/ medical professional. From this I will then take a collateral history and triage the patient accordingly, which involves completing a ‘A-E’ assessment. I will then order initial investigations and speak to a clinician in regards to further investigations. This involves getting appropriate analgesia etc prescribed. I am also responsible for the generic basic nursing care and the appropriate documentation and ensuring the patient is safely transferred to the ward/ home. As I have worked in A&E for 5 years now, I feel as though the team trust me and I have a greater responsibility than would be expected.

In November 2020 I was also given the opportunity to become a clinical educator at the University of Sheffield for the TNA programme. Being a clinical educator is not something I had planned or even thought I could do - however the Director of Apprenticeships at the University encouraged me throughout my training to consider this path. I have always enjoyed teaching other staff on a peer to peer basis and enjoy all aspects of the training programme. My responsibilities include looking after TNA’s who are on various stages of the course. We provide support for both clinical problems and also student wellbeing. Other responsibilities include placement planning, NAPAD/placement documentation reviews and marking these. As a clinical educator you are the main point of contact between the partnerships and the University, and my role at the University has helped me with my own confidence and is something that I enjoy and will continue to do.

Would you recommend the Apprenticeship and why?

The apprenticeship route has many benefits - overall the main one is that you are still in full time employment whilst completing a degree at university all of which is paid for! The apprenticeship route is also good for people who prefer to learn hands on and for many who are considering this role, this would likely be their preferred way of learning.

The course can change your professional life, it opens different avenues and opportunities throughout your career. It gives you the chance to become a registered nurse or go into a different specialist area. Or like me it can assist with working within education.

What are your future career plans?

For the moment I enjoy both working clinically in Accident and Emergency and promoting the role of the nursing associate within the department. In terms of becoming a registered nurse this may be something I would look into in the future. However I would like to continue to work for the University and explore different roles and careers within the nursing and midwifery team. I am keen to teach people (especially around emergency care) and would like to do some work around simulations.

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