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Senior Community Health Care Support Worker Melanie Woodman has been crowned Healthcare Apprentice of the Year.

Melanie was presented with her award at the recent Lifetime Learner Achievement Awards. She completed her apprenticeship ahead of schedule despite working full time as a HCA and juggling a busy home life, running a smallholding, with seven children and five grandchildren!

Here, Stacey Lines, our Widening Access and Apprenticeship Lead, found out more about Melanie and her achievements.

Melanie had her first child at 16 and completed her A Levels in biology, chemistry and sociology in the evenings. She gained a place at university in 1990 but then the recession hit, so she couldn’t go. After a lot of part time work to accommodate caring for her children, she decided to get a job as a healthcare assistant. This was difficult, without any experience, but Melanie found a role at Cheltenham General Hospital. She spent two years there, before working for Macmillan, and joined Gloucestershire Care Services in 2017 to broaden her skills as a Band 3 HCA. With the ambition of becoming a fully qualified nurse, Melanie spoke to the Learning and Development team and was advised to complete her level 3 apprenticeship.

Why did you choose to enroll onto the Level 3 HCA apprenticeship?

I wanted to excel and pursue my career in healthcare but couldn’t do this when I was younger due to family commitments and financial contstraints. The Level 3 Senior Health Care Support Worker apprenticeship was a way to kick start my career ambitions to becoming a fully qualified nurse.

What was most enjoyable?

I love learning and developing skills, consolidating what you know and putting it onto paper, as well as meeting other apprentices. I enjoyed the assignments.

What did you find most challenging?

It was struggle for the first year due to the learning provider and changes of assessors. Study days were cancelled which caused a break. Although these were all rectified it did make it challenging to begin with.

Who and what helped you to achieve a Distinction?

I was so surprised when I found out about the grade. I pushed hard to gain a distinction and was chuffed. My family’s reaction to the grade was to go out and celebrate! My colleagues were always willing to help and provide information required for my apprenticeship work.

Would you recommend the apprenticeship to other HCAs?

Very much so, its great a stepping stone and great way to get back in to learning if you’ve been away from that environment for a while. As the trust paid for the qualification through the apprenticeship levy I didn’t have to worry about paying for tuition fees. I was employed, receiving a salary, pension and all the other benefits whilst completing my qualification.

How did you find the End Point Assessment?

Not as scary as I thought it would be. If you’ve done the prep and are confident in your knowledge then its pretty straight forward. The assessor came in the car and went on the rounds, then came back to Redwood House to complete the professional discussion. I felt I had prepared well for any questions that the assessor may ask. It was a thorough assessment but also enjoyable.

Your next apprenticeship is the Trainee Nursing Associate, how are you feeling about this?

I can’t wait! I’m starting uni on the same day as my daughter which my children find amusing.

What are you most looking forward to?

Fab support from family and they’re very proud. Freshers week!

What is your plan once you complete the Trainee Nursing Associate programme?

To carry on and complete the full Registered Nurse degree. I would love to do this in the Gloucestershire.

What are you worried about?

I’m worried about where the placements will be and missing my favourite patients.

What would you say to someone who is currently looking to study a healthcare apprenticeship?

If you want something hard enough then you must prepared to work hard for it. I feel supported by colleagues and the learning and development team.

How did you feel about being nominated for the ‘Healthcare Apprentice of the Year’ award by Lifetime Training?

Shocked and really surprised that I was chosen and nominated. It wasn’t expected at all.

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