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Neel Sharma - Senior Leaders Master’s Degree Level 7

Neel is currently working at the Trust as a Gastrointestinal (GI) Specialist and Post Certificate of Completion Training (CCT) Fellow in Intestinal Transplant.

When asked why he chose to do an apprenticeship, Neel said that the apprenticeship choice was simple, that life is continuous learning, and having the ability to gain further education via an apprenticeship route whilst in full time employment was the perfect combination for him.

He also said that as a clinician, taking time out to study can cause significant deskilling, so being able to still work clinically and gain further education at the same time is great.

He chose CUH to complete his apprenticeship, as it is an elite institute that recognises the importance of life-long learning.

The Trust is extremely accommodating in this sense and recognises each employee as an individual with individual learning needs and unique career directions.

Neel Sharma  Senior Leaders Master’s Degree  Level 7

What does a typical day look like in your role?

Currently I am a Post CCT Fellow in Intestinal Transplant. It’s a brilliant job! I completed my specialist training in Gastroenterology but was left wanting more. Intestinal transplant provides that entirely. I spend each day on the High Dependency Unit (HDU), primarily helping to manage complex medical issues post-op under the expert guidance of the multi visceral transplant consultants here at CUH. It is fast-paced, energising, and extremely supportive. CUH is a world-leading centre in this field, and it is a privilege to be learning here.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I am someone that needs an energetic job where I am constantly learning, and intestinal transplant allows for that. One of the issues with the way training works now is we are expected typically to focus on one organ only, but the primary reason I chose Gastroenterology was for the variety of pathology. Intestinal transplant keeps the thinking alive; to see patients with complex intestinal failure benefit from a transplant and then be discharged home to live a fully functioning life is mind-blowing.

What sorts of things do you do for the off the job learning aspect of your apprenticeship?

Off the job I partake in online lectures and face-to-face teaching. This hybrid approach suits me well whilst in employment. Our lectures are interactive and the face-to-face exchanges allow for great networking and the sharing of insights and perspectives. The teaching material is a combination of theoretical aspects and case studies which enable me to understand the theory from a practical perspective – what works well and what does not in a healthcare setting.

Does this involve attending college or is it all completed at work?

The classes are designed over the weekend, so it fits in perfectly with my clinical schedule. There is the option of early morning or evening sessions, so clinical duties are not impacted.

What are your future intentions?

In 2019 I founded the Clinician Engineer Hub which is aimed at bridging the gap between medicine and engineering. I run this alongside my clinical duties and already I can see how the management skills I have gained has proven beneficial to aid in hub expansion.

I hope to continue on in my journey combining clinical practice with engineering advances in healthcare. Let’s see what the future holds…

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

To anyone keen on pursuing an apprenticeship, I fully recommend doing so. The networking is great and I have met colleagues not only from the NHS, but also industry. The programme is built around your day-to-day job, with modules on weekends which are spread out and flexible.

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?

The apprenticeship scheme allowed me to develop my management skills. Management is somewhat lacking in our training as clinicians, and often we are expected to take up management roles within the NHS without the proper theoretical background. The MBA programme has given me immense exposure to aspects of effective leadership, financial planning, innovation and strategy to name but a few avenues.

Acknowledgements

With thanks to the intestinal transplant team for giving me the opportunity to expand my learning (in no particular order)

Dr Sharkey, Dr Rutter, Dr Massey, Dr Woodward, Miss Amin, Mr Russell, Mr Butler