Full name: Victoria Portsmouth
Apprenticeship course: Occupational Therapy (Level 6)
Why did you decide to do a degree apprenticeship?
I had been working within Health and Social Care for approximately ten years. Initially I was a support worker in the community working with people with life limiting illnesses using equipment with them prescribed by OT’s. This introduced me to the world of Occupational Therapy (OT). I then worked as an OT assistant for Community OT and then a Rehabilitation Assistant for Home1st. I was really inspired by the OT’s I worked with and the difference they were able to make to people’s everyday lives. I enjoyed the work I was doing with patients but felt I could do so much more for them and gain more work satisfaction as a qualified OT.
What has been your experience so far?
The course is really enjoyable with so much to learn. I have good practical knowledge however my theory is lacking so it has been interesting to learn the theory!
The staff and other students are friendly and the other apprentices have been really supportive. It is difficult working full time and studying for a degree and at times can seem really daunting however just take one module at a time and before you know it a term is done then the next. Placements are a fantastic opportunity to experience areas of OT that you may not be so familiar with.
How has the University supported you?
As an apprentice I have a personal tutor who meets with me and my work mentors once a term to discuss my progress and any issues that may have arisen. My tutor also checks in regularly and is always contactable if I need her.
The modules are clearly laid out on NILE and the module lecturers details are available so you can contact them with any queries.
There is a good library at the University and online library as well with support from the academic librarians if needed.
Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree apprenticeship are useful in your work role?
With each module and placement that passes I feel I take some of the knowledge gained back into my work place. I now approach a patient’s situation differently, questioning more, evaluating more and I am more likely to discuss situations with other OT’s to gain their advice and experience. As I progress through the course, the OT in me is also developing.
The different settings from placements are invaluable in providing experience with different patients and settings.
What advice would you like to give to others interested in doing degree apprenticeships?
No-one expects you to know everything and get it right first time!
Give yourself the time that is needed to complete the work expected! It is really hard trying to juggle full time work, family life and a degree course and sometimes other things have to take a back seat. I really struggled with my own expectations at the beginning trying to ensure that I gave 100% to work, University and my family and still had a perfectly tidy house. It is just not possible and it is ok to focus on University work instead of the washing! Enjoy it!
What are your future plans?
Once I qualify I would like to remain with my current service and complete a rotation around the different teams we have, these include A&E, inpatient rehab, community rehab and older adults mental health to provide me with more experience and knowledge before deciding which area of OT I would like to work within. There are so many different areas an OT can work in and I would like to gain more knowledge before I make firm decisions!