Sammy currently works as a Medical Technical Officer in the Haemato-Oncology Diagnostics Service (HODS) Laboratory as a Trainee Biomedical Scientist.
He started in HODS for his first Laboratory Technician Level 3 apprenticeship, secured a banded role in the department and has now progressed onto the Level 6 Healthcare Science Practitioner Apprenticeship.
When asked what made him choose to do an apprenticeship, Sammy said that after he had finished his A-Levels he wanted to gain practical experience at a workplace and supplement this with part time education.
He chose to do an apprenticeship specifically at CUH because of all of the opportunities that are available and knew he would be supported and encouraged throughout to achieve his qualification.
After completing his Laboratory Technician Level 3 apprenticeship in 2021, he had gained practical and theoretical lab experience and knowledge to enable him to take on the Level 6 Healthcare Science Practitioner Degree whilst being employed as a Band 4 in his department
What does a typical day look like in your role?
The HODS lab is responsible for the diagnosis and follow up testing for haematological malignancies such as leukaemias/lymphomas for the East of England.
A typical day includes preparing slides on bone marrow and peripheral blood samples, preparing cytospin slides on body fluids such as cerebrospinal fluid, pleural fluid and others for morphological interpretation using the microscope.
I stain these slides using various cytochemical stains. I am also responsible for keeping up with the laboratory consumables and ensuring we always have enough stock, so this involves ordering more when we are low.
As part of my Band 4 role I am also training in the set up and analysis of flow cytometry panels so I spend some time doing that. I also enjoy looking at blood and bone marrow morphology under the microscope so I often spend time doing that to improve my skills.
What do you enjoy about your role?
I enjoy that there are lots of tasks to do and these are all quite different which gives me a good variety of things to do during the day. I enjoy the scientific aspect of my role as I find it fascinating that such small changes can have such a large impact on a patient’s health. I also enjoy that my work directly affects patients in a positive way.
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?
I gain my off the job learning by attending university lectures online, revising for my exams and attending the university for face to face lectures. I get one day off a week from work for my studies so I am able to do this at home or on campus.
What are your future intentions?
As part of my degree apprenticeship I will be completing my Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) registration portfolio to become a state registered Biomedical Scientist (BMS). Once I have completed this I would like to gain a BMS position in the lab I am in currently and work my way up whilst gaining more experience and knowledge; I hope that this will lead to me going into a senior position one day in the future.
What advice would you give to others who may be looking to take on an apprenticeship?
If you are unsure about going to college or university because you don’t like the idea of studying full time, if you know the type of work you would like to go into, or if you are someone who learns better by doing things, then an apprenticeship is a great idea.
You are able to gain valuable practical experience alongside the theory aspect and earn a salary at the same time.
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?
I have developed my confidence, communication skills and problem solving skills from doing my apprenticeship and these skills are really important as they are not just limited to the workplace, they are important for every aspect of life.