University of Brighton graduate wins Apprenticeship award for innovation in patient care during a pandemic
Biomedical Science Degree Apprenticeship graduate, Meghann Creffield, won the award for Outstanding Contribution by an Apprentice to an Employer, at the Brighton and Hove Apprenticeships Awards, after being nominated by the Royal Sussex County Hospital pathology department where she works.
As part of her degree apprenticeship, Meghann was tasked with designing an innovative project which would improve patient care. Meghann’s project on procalcitonin had a direct impact on the treatment of patients with COVID-19, by developing a blood test that helped clinicians to form their treatment plans.
Watch her acceptance speech and find out more about why she was nominated here:
We caught up with Meghann to find more about why she decided to do a degree apprenticeship and her experiences on the programme:
Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship over a traditional degree route and what were you doing prior to the apprenticeship?
As a young mother I was unable to undertake a more traditional degree route due to time and money constraints. Between my personal circumstances and a lack of confidence in myself, I presumed that a degree level qualification was something I could never achieve.
I have been incredibly lucky to have started my working life in the scientific field as a Medical Laboratory Assistant within Pathology at the Royal Sussex Country Hospital. My department are incredibly proactive at selecting candidates to be put forward for a robust training pathway including academic qualifications. I was selected for this pathway and, alongside raising my family and working, I was able to complete a Foundation degree and an applied degree apprenticeship BSc.
This was only possible with the flexibility of the apprenticeship framework and the full support of my employers.
How did the pandemic affect your project and work priorities? How did your employer and the University of Brighton support you with this?
I was an NHS worker in the final year of my degree apprenticeship when the pandemic hit. I can honestly say my entire academic plan got thrown into chaos. Study and holiday leave had to be cancelled and all my childcare provision fell through due to lockdown. The university was forced to close so I had no lectures or access to the libraries. On top of this, my dissertation project was based within my workplace and a massive demand for NHS laboratories to do Covid-19 testing overtook the priorities of all staff and management. I had serious concerns that I wouldn’t graduate at all.
Ultimately, with some incredible help from my work Training Officers and Dr Sarah Pitt (Course leader at the University of Brighton), I was able to undertake my final project testing and submit everything I needed including undertaking online lectures and online final year exams. Both my employer and the University of Brighton worked amazingly together to overcome the difficulties of final year students graduating in the middle of a pandemic.
What opportunities and responsibilities have become available to you as a result of your apprenticeship?
My apprenticeship opened a gateway for me into higher education and career development, that led directly to a promotion within the NHS. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that are now available to me because of the programme.
What would you say to someone who is considering starting a degree apprenticeship?
It is a long road, and you really must dedicate yourself to the journey, but ultimately you will finish with a degree qualification. Your employment potential will increase dramatically, and the long road is definitely worth it for the outcome.
What would you say the benefits are to your employer specifically hiring an apprentice?
As an apprentice I worked as a junior employee for several years, so by the time of my graduation I was extremely well versed in the day to day running and skills required for a higher-level job. This meant, as an employee, I was able to hit the ground running so to speak.
What are your plans now you have graduated and have your goals changed?
I fully intend to develop my career further within the Biochemistry department at Royal Sussex County Hospital. I am already undertaking my specialist portfolio and in the future am considering a MSc.
Did you have any contact with any student support services while you studying with the University?
Yes, I did. I received support via student services as I am dyslexic, and they helped me greatly with my Student Support Plan and cascading this to my lecturers and tutors. I found the whole student support services team extremely friendly and helpful. The information they provided me was clear and of great use.
You may also remember, a few months ago, that course leader on this apprenticeship, Dr Sarah Pitt, won Biomedical Scientist of the Year award for virology research and media engagement around COVID-19. You can read the full article here.