Natalie Cook, Nurse Apprentice
Meet Natalie, our Manual Handling Trainer who is also currently a student nurse via the Nurse Apprenticeship programme.
Natalie started working for NHS in April 2009 and is proud to celebrate 10 years’ service this year. Her role has changed considerably over the years but she advises she is lucky to have had supportive colleagues and managers. She has enjoyed working with many different types of health professionals over the years both clinical and non clinical. Due to the hospital being relatively small, you get to know people quite quickly which is nice and it is a really friendly place to work and she's met some great friends along the way.
Natalie's manual handling training over the last 4 years involved delivering training sessions within GP surgeries, nursing homes, a local hospice, hospitals and community settings throughout East Cheshire. Natalie really enjoys her job role and the variety it brings; she finds it really rewarding supporting staff and helping to educate them in best practice in manual handling which supports them in providing excellent patient care.
Natalie has always wanted to develop her career, so was excited in 2017 when her manager approached her with an opportunity to study and become a nurse. Whilst she had studied previously in another subject, and has experience of patient care, a nursing apprenticeship was going to be a new challenge for her and something she felt passionate about.
In September 2018 she began studying with the Open University and was honoured she was chosen as one of the first students to study in this way. This also meant a 3rd colour change in uniform for Natalie which continually confuses people!
The nurse apprenticeship route is on a part time basis over 4 years and enables Natalie to continue within her job role as a trainer. The trust supports her development by releasing her to take part in study and practical placements. Natalie feels extremely fortunate to have this opportunity!
The study with the Open University is the same as any other university; Natalie works towards the NMC requirements to become a registered nurse and has 2 theory based tutors and 1 practice based tutor. She keeps in touch with other students regularly, but there is so much support online through student forums, email, student support or telephone contact. You're never alone!
It is a challenge at times to get the work life balance of being a health professional and a student but Natalie is surrounded by family, friends and colleagues who are an amazing support. Natalie advises you have to really manage your time and keep yourself motivated to study in your own environment, there is no university building to attend so she never needs to sit through a lecture, or travel to Manchester or Chester. All her study material is sent to her via several routes such as books, online reading / activities and live online tutorials.The live tutorials are great, they mean Natalie gets to interact with her tutor and other students online as they all get chance to share ideas, chat, learn and voice any worries they might have. The flexibility is great and it fits in with her lifestyle.
It's been a fantastic opportunity and Natalie is excited to keep learning and developing - nurse in progress!!