We sent apprentices who had completed the apprenticeship a questionnaire and here are their responses:
Has your job title and grade or pay scale changed since undertaking the apprenticeship?
Apprentices 1 & 2: Yes we were promoted to level 4, from SHCA (level 3) to Assistant Practitioner in Ophthalmology
Apprentice 3: When I started an apprenticeship, I was a Band 3 ophthalmic technician. Throughout the course, I successfully applied for a Band 4 Senior ophthalmic position. After completing the apprenticeship course, I successfully applied for a Band 5 ophthalmic photographer role.
Apprentice 4: No I am still at the same band (in the same role) as before I started, maybe this will change in the future?
Apprentice 5: Since I have finished my course I have been titled officially as a Senior Ophthalmic Technician. I have been promised to have my promotion this summer to upgrade to Band 5 and I am really looking forward to it.
Has your job role changed, e.g., performing new skills, assessments and investigations, having more responsibilities such as quality assurance, and training other staff? Put anything you think is relevant here.
Apprentices 1 & 2: Training other staff in technician roles as well as training the community hospital staff to perform OCT and VF (apprentice 1); supervising the band 3’s, point of contact for their HCA’s to relay any concerns they would like escalating; point of contact for Zeiss (machines and servicing) (apprentice 1); calibrate the tonometer’s weekly; perform pachymetry, GAT, nurse-led assessment clinics (macular, glaucoma, diabetic macular, neuro); updating SOP’s (apprentice 1); Van Herrick, slit lamp skills, added drops skills such as Lidocaine combined drop.
Apprentice 3: My job roles and responsibilities changed throughout my career. I gained more responsibility for my workload. I developed new skills, teaching a new staff member, line managing staff, providing high-quality OCT images, running a virtual clinic and reviewing images.
Apprentice 4: My job role has not changed – completing the apprenticeship has not given me more responsibilities or a higher grade. I am still doing the same job I did prior to the apprenticeship. In my own department – there is a sense that another course is more preferable to them (an OCT course) and therefore they do not see potential in me to give me higher grade/responsibility.
Apprentice 5: I have been receiving more positive feedback form my team members, including doctors, managers, colleagues, as well as more thanks from patients and their relatives.
-My mentor who is my Lead Ophthalmic Photographer/techician is giving me more responsibilities to teach new startres and students about their roles and equipments they need to learn. Also get asked about my opinion more about the new staff, whether they’ve gained their confidence to use equipment on their own and are ready to sign off competency certificates.
Have your behaviours and attitudes changed, e.g., do you feel more confident, have greater self-esteem, can take on new challenges, solve problems etc?
Apprentices 1 & 2: Feel ready for new challenges, grown in confidence and feel staff morale has increased.
Apprentice 3: I am confident in my role and starting to sell belief as I worked hard to get where I am today. I take on new challenges than opportunity arises, as I want to improve my development skills even further.
Apprentice 4: The apprenticeship course has definitely made me think more about reflecting on my everyday activities in and outside of work and given me more scientific knowledge and basis to my role. I have grown with confidence with my experience in my role but have been doing the apprenticeship alongside my own growth within the department so it isn’t all down to the study but the study definitely played a part in giving me more knowledge which i put in to practice within my job role duties. It has been a journey of personal and professional development for sure and I would recommend anyone starting it to really commit to it 100% and keep plowing through, there were moments when i felt overwhelmed by the amount of work to complete but i kept on track and found the layout easy to follow and it is in manageable chunks and reflection is a big part of looking at how far you have come and being willing to step outside of your comfort zone.
Apprentice 5: I have studied nursing back home 25 years ago and worked as a nurse in Turkey; This apprenticeship helped me to recap on my knowledge, remember the information I’ve forgotten and develop a better understanding of the recent viewpoints to new treatments, thoughts and technology as I feel that I am a nurse now. My confidence increased in the sector I work in and I am ready to take new challenges, continue to study for next achievements and take on more responsibilities.
Have attitudes and behaviours of colleagues towards you changed, e.g., do you find doctors and other clinical staff are more likely to seek your opinion and advice etc.?
Apprentices 1 & 2: Other allied health professionals tend to ask us as point of contact for all machines and equipment. Consultants are discussing our nurse-led clinics with us. We are a point of contact for all neuro VF requests from the Endocrine team also.
Apprentice 3: Some of my colleagues will ask for a piece of advice and ask me to teach them new skills. The doctors always come to me if they need anything, knowing I will help them if I can.
Apprentice 4: Nobody seeks my opinion or advice at my level. I do like to share my knowledge and I am keen to engage with new starters in the team and ensure they are given the support to learn and grow in their role, I find it rewarding to train them and help them gain competencies and confidence within their duties.
Apprentice 5: I work collaboratively more often with Nurse Practitioners and help out with their audits and research. I finish the tasks with more ease with my new knowledge. Some doctors prefer to work with me now as my managements and problem-solving skills also improved; reporting incidents to the relevant departments. Some doctors are looking for me sometimes in the clinic, as they know I can do the best investigative practice at work. My knowledge of anatomy and physiology has improved as the doctors can see better quality of scans and fundus photography to the relevant investigations.
Has the apprenticeship changed how you interact with patients and how patients respond to you?
Apprentices 1 & 2: We already have a rapport with the patients, I don’t feel like that has changed hugely, they are just glad to be seen. Sometimes are happier to be seen by nursing staff as we treat them more holistically.
Apprentice 3: The apprenticeship gave me the skills to continue my career and further development. I learnt so much about how to be a line manager, provide excellent care to our patients, and look after our staff.
Apprentice 4: No I have grown in confidence but cannot put that all down to the apprenticeship, but it has contributed.
Apprentice 5: The course I have done made me aware that I am already doing the right healthcare practice, but now I feel I am professional with less mistakes and more positive feedbacks. The way I walk the corridors more confidently now. I am receiving more verbal and written positive feedback from patients, relatives and team members.
Anything else you think is relevant
Apprentices 1 & 2: Hugely proud of what we have achieved. Will always be grateful to Rosalind, David and Jane for all their enthusiasm during the course, and continued help and support. Especially as our own manager moved Hospitals which was demoralising at the time, so we were lucky to still had the backing of the AHPO team thank goodness.
Apprentice 4: The course is very informative and there are plenty of materials provided to learners and you have a mentor in your department assigned to you, i was allowed to change Mentor halfway through as my first mentor was not providing any support or guidance at all, so was discussed at review and changed and that helped a lot. I definitely feel proud for having accomplished and completed this apprenticeship – there is a lot of work to complete (as there is with any course of study) but it is manageable if you commit to it and work hard and keep on track. It was a mostly enjoyable course to complete.