Lucy Coleman

February 12, 2020

Lucy Coleman – County Nurse Award Runner up

NHFT. Nurse Degree Apprenticeship

What attracted you to apply to become an apprentice?

I wanted to complete the Health and Social Care diploma to allow me to progress in my career so I could go on to do my nurse training. After contact with the Learning and Development department I was advised I could do the Apprenticeship route. I liked how I could study and work at the same time and it meant I did not have to leave my job and still have income.

Did you know which sector you wanted to work in?

I have worked in various roles within the NHS years over the years and have enjoyed parts of working in both physical and mental health. I have found working in mental health the most rewarding and decided that I wanted to become a mental health nurse.

What surprised you most about becoming an apprentice?

When you get the right balance between working, study and family life how it easy it can become to achieve.

What have you learnt from your time as an apprentice?

I have learnt that you need to be really self-motivated and put the time in which can be challenging whilst working and having a family but it does have so many benefits and I felt really supported particularly from my assessor.

What does a typical day involve?

Working in an Acute Mental Health Liaison service is an extremely environment where no day is ever the same. The shift would have a handover on who is waiting for assessment, and who would need a supportive inreach visit. Staff would attend the capacity meetings which is important to improving working relationships between NHFT and the General Hospital. Staff would check the diary to see if there are any follow up calls or referrals to be made. We all participate with daily the report, I support the Lead Practitioners carrying out mental health assessments for individuals who attend the emergency department regarding their mental health, and in my Apprentice Student role I would carry out these assessments under supervision. The role involves liaising with multiple agencies and services within NHFT whilst working collaboratively with individuals to formulate the onward plan. The team would also provide support to staff within the Crisis Cafes when they are needing advice over the phone, or in person if staffing allowed.

You have progressed very quickly as an apprentice – please can you tell us about your experience?

I have been working in the NHS for the last 11 years. My first job was working as a healthcare assistant in a GP practice that specialised in mental health and substance misuse along with providing routine GP services. I managed my own clinics and I supported people that other GP services would not take on due to various reasons. This started my passion for working with vulnerable individuals and made me want to strive to improve the healthcare that is delivered to vulnerable people. My first job working in NHFT was as a Crisis Worker for a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). This was emotionally challenging at times and it highlighted for me just how essential it is to show empathy and compassion and I feel I matured both professionally and as a person when working in this role. I spent time working in Forensic Mental health at Berrywood Hospital and in August 2016 I was fortunate enough to be part of a team that opened the Crisis House. I thoroughly enjoyed this and felt I was able to flourish as a support worker and I really wanted to progress and to become a mental health nurse. After the success of opening the Crisis House I also helped develop the Crisis Cafes working collaboratively with the third sector. Both these roles has given me tremendous learning opportunities and it has made such a difference feeling such a valued part of the team and how others saw in me what I saw in myself.

What training and support were you given to develop your role?

When I was working at The Crisis House I was encouraged to do all I could to progress to become a nurse, I was very well supported and I felt valued. My Manager contacted the Learning and Development Team to enquire as to what diplomas were available and it all started from there!

Where do you see your career going?

Whilst I was doing the Health and Social Care diploma I enquired about the Nurse Degree Apprenticeship. I completed the application and was invited to an interview. I was over the moon when I was informed that I had been successful! I am now over half way into my first year as an Apprentice Student Nurse and am hoping that all the hard work will be worth it in the end when I qualify in a few year’s time! I would like to stay within the Crisis Pathway working as a mental health nurse and continue to progress in my career.

What do you like most about being an apprentice?

I like how I am still part of a team and can study and work alongside each other. It allows me to learn new things every day whilst I am working.

Would you recommend this route to others?

Yes I would recommend this route. It is definitely hard work and you have to show your commitment and drive in wanting to achieve your goal. I would not have been able to do this when I finished my A-Levels because I did not know what I wanted to do or have the motivation. I am now in a position in my life when I know what I want to do and have worked hard in getting to where I have. I still have a regular income and can help support my family and have not had to leave my job to allow me to progress in my career.