Milton Keynes hospital worker shares how the apprenticeship programme has changed her life

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Christine Jones was looking to further her career in healthcare and wanted a new challenge. She joined The Saxon Clinic, part of Circle Health Group, as an Assistant Theatre Practitioner in 2012. Having worked in theatres for a while, Christine wanted to further develop her skills and progress further up the ladder. Therefore an apprenticeship route was the perfect route for Christine to pursue her career goals.

“I’d always wanted to be an Operating Department Practitioner and do this through an apprenticeship, but when I started at The Saxon Clinic. The qualifications weren’t available at the time. However when the opportunity came to do an apprenticeship, I grabbed it with both arms,” she said.

“Furthermore I could also pursue my career goal of becoming an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) without having to worry about student debt, which was another thing that appealed to me.”

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Christine, who grew up in Buckinghamshire, decided to make her goal a reality and began to explore her options. She discovered that Circle Health Group were offering apprenticeships aimed at hospital theatre staff. Following a conversation with the team at The Saxon Clinic, she was enrolled on to an Operating Department Practitioner Degree programme in 2020, which was accredited through Teesside University. The apprenticeship programme was the first step she needed to complete the ODP registered professional qualification. The skills she obtained as an Assistant Theatre Practitioner gave her the confidence needed to work in a busy hospital environment.

Christine JonesChristine Jones
Christine Jones

“The level 6 Degree Operating Department Practitioner gave me the skills that I hadn’t been able to pick up elsewhere. More importantly, it gave me the confidence that I could move forward in my career in healthcare. This meant I could take the skills that I had learnt and use them whilst working in the operating theatres,” Christine said.

“It was daunting at first, but I knew the apprenticeship route was the right environment for me. I was accepted onto the course, and I never looked back, it was the best decision that I made.”

She went on to say: “The best part of my apprenticeship was that the course was very hands-on. Being able to learn so many new skills and obtain invaluable knowledge was fantastic. The apprenticeship program opened my eyes to just how important the job theatre staff do. Obtaining my qualification has given me new opportunities that I didn’t think were possible.”

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Having officially finished her qualification in October 2022, Christine is now officially a qualified ODP. Reflecting on her experiences, Christine admits that it has not always been easy.

“The most challenging part was at the beginning of the course when Covid hit. It completely changed the style of learning and being able to communicate with people due to lockdowns and social distancing measures. Balancing work and home life, whilst studying was also really hard for me,” Christine said.

“However, I had fantastic support from my theatre colleagues at The Saxon Clinic and also from my husband. They were all really keen for me to succeed.

“Having that support gave me the extra determination to get through the course, without them I wouldn’t be in the position where I am today.”

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Completing the Operating Departmental Practitioner Degree qualification has changed the life of Christine. When asked what this has meant to her and what her hopes for the future are she said: “Completing the course has given me so much greater knowledge and career satisfaction, I can’t see myself doing anything else. My job is for life.

“My hopes for the future are to keep developing and become the best ODP Theatre Practitioner that I can for myself, colleagues and most importantly the patients I look after every day.”

Christine is one of fifteen apprentices who are working or have completed their qualifications at The Saxon Clinic. In 2023 alone, Circle Health Group supported over 200 apprentices who completed apprenticeship qualifications.

Since launching the apprenticeship programme in 2017, 35 different bespoke programmes aimed at recruiting and retaining talent in clinical and non-clinical roles. Have been launched by Circle Health Group across the UK.

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