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Eloise Cashen - Occupational Therapy Degree, Level 6

Elouise’s first job after leaving Sixth Form was as a Physiotherapy Assistant, based mainly with the Respiratory Physio Team during the Covid pandemic. Within this role she worked closely with Occupational Therapists and decided this was what she wanted to do.

She chose the apprenticeship route as she wanted to continue to work using the skills she had already gained, plus to earn a salary alongside her learning.

Eloise chose CUH to complete her apprenticeship and moved to Cambridge because her previous hospital did not offer the apprenticeship route.

What does a typical day look like in your role?

I am currently working with the Trauma and Orthopaedic Team, where I have daily involvement with patients to help them to practice washing and dressing, bed / chair / toilet / bath / commode transfer practice, kitchen practice, orientation for those with cognitive deficits, engagement in meaningful activities, therapeutic rehab through activities such as playing games which require work on cognitive and physical skills, for example, related to concentration, co-ordination, upper limb movements and core strength.

Other duties include equipment orders and stocking up equipment, helping the OT’s with double-up patient sessions, keeping our OT kitchens tidy and being involved in team projects.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy the variety of the role. Each day is different and brings me new challenges and learning experiences, and I’m always developing my current skills.

I like the face-to-face interaction with patients as I feel this helps to build up rapports and make therapy more meaningful.

I also like the team working as I feel this is a crucial part of working in an acute hospital when pressures are high.

What sorts of things do you do for the off-the job-learning aspect of your apprenticeship and does this involve attending college, or is it all completed at work?

My off-the-job learning involves attending university for seminars once a week. It also includes watching university lectures, completing homework tasks set by the university which can involve team working, working on my assignments, completing wider reading, linking my university learning to the practical side of the job through supervisions and mentor meetings. However, some of this can be completed in my own time.

What are your future intentions?

I am keen to experience community and mental health work, which are two areas which I am yet to work in, however, after I qualify I would like to get some experience working as a Band 5 in an acute hospital rotational post in Addenbrooke’s before I move onwards.

At some point after that, I’d love to work abroad to get the experience of a different healthcare system and how different / similar it is to the UK’s.

What advice would you give to others who may be looking to take on an apprenticeship?

Completing a degree apprenticeship requires a commitment to work, university and life balance so it is important to be able to prioritise to achieve this.

It is vital to acknowledge the length of the degree and your ‘5 year plan,’ so researching into what you are going into is crucial.

Finally, think about if the degree is really for you and where this could lead you when you have completed it.

The main theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is 'skills for life'. What are the most important skills for life that you have developed in your role?

Time management, prioritisation, creative and holistic thinking, empathy and patience.