Sharon Whitmore, Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship
Sharon is a 33-year-old healthcare assistant who works part-time at a local GP surgery. She studied her Assistant Practitioner (Health) Higher Apprenticeship (Level 5) at the University of Brighton.
Sharon left school after taking GCSEs and started a family soon after. She aspired to be a nurse, but further study was not a realistic possibility for her at that time.
Sharon later considered returning to higher-level study, but found there were barriers:
“I seriously considered going to university three or four times, but it was just too difficult. It would have meant leaving my job, which I didn’t want to do, studying full-time, and living off a bursary, supplemented by night shifts. As a mother of two, I just couldn’t do it.
“When I heard about the apprenticeship, all of the stumbling blocks just disappeared. I asked my employers if I could do the higher apprenticeship and they were happy to support me. So now I do I eight hours at university per week, plus 22 hours in practice in my job.
“The higher apprenticeship is amazing. I’m learning loads from my tutors, but I also get a great deal from my fellow students as we all work in different settings – for example, some are in hospitals and A&E departments. This course is so flexible you can tailor it to suit all of the different working environments.
“I’m getting so much more out of it than I thought I would. The hardest thing is returning to study after so many years’ out of education – but I think it’s absolutely brilliant!”
Dr Siddiqui, Sharon’s employer at the Moat House Surgery near Redhill in Surrey, wanted to support Sharon in her development, and acknowledges that the practice will benefit from the increased quality of care that she will be able to provide to patients.
Dr Siddiqui said: “Sharon has always demonstrated a zest for learning. She had expressed her desire to get higher qualifications many times in the past but a true opportunity never presented itself until the higher apprenticeship programme came up. We were more than happy to support Sharon as we are aware of her great potential.”