Full name: Spencer Soilleux
Apprenticeship course: Advanced Clinical Practitioner (Level 7)
Why did you decide to do a degree apprenticeship?
Opportunities for development can be competitive as you advance within Occupational Therapy (OT) in mental health – and are often management based. Personally, I don’t see myself as a manager. I prefer to be in front of the patients. My strengths are in my clinical work and this is where I want to develop my career. This has been a fantastic way to develop in this way and create this pathway in my organisation for myself and others.
What has been your experience so far?
I did a Postgraduate degree when I trained as an Occupational Therapist so I was pretty confident about the course. However, this course is very different. They really put the ‘advanced’ into clinical practice, and I couldn’t be happier to get my teeth into a challenge and really build new skills and knowledge, rather than just go back over old ground! It does get easier though and the support has been great.
How has the University supported you?
I am not an academic by any means. The library services have been immensely helpful with skills courses and support with literature searching. The programme leads on my course including my tutor couldn’t be more pleased to offer advice and direction – incredibly responsive, even when I get stuck with an administrative task. I was a late registrant to the course. I went from sign up to start in a few days and everyone couldn’t have been more helpful! Their response to keep us learning during the pandemic – knowing we are all health professionals – has been amazing.
Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree apprenticeship are useful in your work role?
The theory work has been incredibly interesting but the practical assessment tools we have learned have been very beneficial. Working in mental health, I was somewhat sceptical at first, but as things came together I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve learned – and this is just the start. The rest of the programme sounds like it is going to help me blow my current practice away.
What advice would you like to give to others interested in doing degree apprenticeships?
It’s a great way to get back to education without the disruption to your ‘real life’. I would say to make sure you have a good support network at home and in the workplace as there will be times when it can be difficult. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or feel like you are the only one asking silly questions. Get talking with your classmates, they are an amazing source of knowledge and no doubt they will think the same about you!
What are your future plans?
The world is very different to when I started earlier this year and my work life has changed immensely. The skills I’ve gained from this course have been invaluable in this time, and the support and flexibility from the University is much appreciated. I want to develop the role for advanced clinical practice, fly the flag for OTs and support the next batch of advanced clinical practitioners when they get started!