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Harriet’s apprenticeship journey

From Hair to Healthcare

Harriet has been proud to be called a qualified nurse since October 2021. However, the 25 year old, from Burnham-on-Crouch, originally started on a very different career path, hairdressing.

She completed a hairdressing apprenticeship after leaving school at the age of 16, but after realising she wanted to take care of more than just a person’s hair, she gave it the chop after three years and switched to nursing.

Harriet said: “At the salon, I found I liked communicating with older people. It brought out a caring side in me and I realised I was drawn to the idea of nursing, even though I’d originally was convinced that nursing wasn’t for me. I hated the sight of blood.”

Since then Harriet has never looked back, after joining the healthcare assistant (HCA) training programme at the Trust in 2015, she achieved the HCA care certificate, before starting the apprenticeship scheme.

Harriet’s experience working on Elizabeth Fry ward, the renal ward at Basildon Hospital, convinced her she wanted to become a nurse. She started working towards a level 3 qualification in anatomy and physiology, so she could apply for a place on a foundation degree to become a registered nurse.

She then went on to study for her associate practitioner training with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in 2017, while still being employed by the Trust.

Harriet said: “This meant I got to keep being employed by the Trust whilst I studied, and work full time on the ward. It involved a combination of practical days and completing theory hours, which I completed and graduated this course in 2018. I then got a job as an associate practitioner on Elizabeth Fry ward.”

In May 2019 Harriet was accepted to the nurse degree apprenticeship, where she worked as a band 4 associate practitioner full time on the ward and studying at ARU, which involved four placements of different acute areas.

Harriet worked and studied throughout Covid, doing the majority of her course virtually, finally getting her nursing pin in October 2021. Now, she is working where it all started, on Elizabeth Fry ward, the place where she began her nursing career as an HCA six years ago.

Harriet said: “I absolutely love working on Elizabeth Fry ward. They made me feel part of the team right from the very beginning, I couldn’t have asked for a better ward to support me during those six years. I’m so proud that I both started and finished my studying with them.

“And now I’m finally working as a registered nurse, supporting others doing the very same courses that I completed, and helping nurture the next generation of nurses for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.”