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Monday 4 March 2019

Nursing apprentice, Patricia Cox, shares her story

This week is National Apprenticeship Week - to mark the occasion and shed some light on the higher degree apprenticeships we offer here at Solent, we will 'meet the apprentice' each day.’

You’ll get top tips, hard truths and a first-hand insight into what being an apprentice is really like.  

We start the week with Patricia Cox, 37, who is studying BSc Adult Nursing Practice while working for Solent NHS Trust…

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship? 

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to study to become a nurse.  After moving to the UK, I didn’t know if this would be possible. I’ve been here for 10 years now, and when the opportunity of studying nursing as an apprentice came up, I knew it was my time to go for it.  I could still work, get paid and at the end of the course I can finally become a registered nurse.

Can you give us an overview of your career/education history to date? 

I have a degree in mass media communication but after graduating I found it difficult to get a job. I started working at a nursing home as an activities assistant, and loved it. I was interested in helping the residents and wanted to know more. I moved to the UK, continued working in social care, and then became an assistant practitioner at a council-run nursing home. This strengthened my desire to become a nurse and in December 2017, I joined the NHS as a community support worker for the central case management team. The team is great, really supportive and believe in me.

Nursing apprentice, Patricia Cox

What are your hopes for the future after completing your apprenticeship? 

After completing my apprenticeship, I hope to become a registered nurse. I would like to continue working for the NHS, either in the community or in a hospital ward.

How are you finding the work/life/study balance so far?  

It’s tough, but worth it. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband who gives me the time and space to do my school work.  My colleagues are also very supportive with regards to learning new things when I’m at work. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time with some of my friends, but I have made new friends on my course as well as on placement with students from other universities. 

Following on from the question above, how do you ensure you get the balance right? 

I make sure I take breaks, do what I like to do, and if I’m feeling tired, I take time for myself. I take a nap, read a book, or watch a film.  My husband also makes sure I stay on track, and we take our dog for a walk together in order to spend time with one another and for me to get out of the house and recharge. And if I’m feeling overly stressed, I just cuddle my dog, which helps loads!

Would you recommend this apprenticeship route to others?

Absolutely. I don’t have to worry about not being able to afford the course, as well as still maintaining work. Clinical placements are in blocks, and in between placements, I go back to work.  I don’t think I could achieve this goal otherwise.

How are you finding life at University? 

Solent is great. Our lecturers are fantastic and have real-world experience. They’re very understanding and willing to listen. Very responsive via emails as well. I find the experience to be more holistic, opposed to strictly academic, which works very well for me.  The new nursing facilities are also a great way to practice clinical skills.

Anything else you would like to add? 

Definitely consider the nursing degree apprenticeship route if you want to get into nursing.  The UK has such a shortage of good nurses, so what better way to achieve your dream.

Find out more about our nursing apprenticeships here.