How Lucie went from Excel to x-rays with NHS apprenticeship

DURING the pandemic, Lucie Armson decided she wanted a change of career.

She had grown tired of her work in finance and, inspired by the work of NHS staff as they battled Covid-19, decided she wanted to work in the health service.

Now, she is a an apprentice radiographer at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital, working hard to qualify.

Apprenticeships are proving invaluable to the NHS, as staffing challenges continue across the country.

Lucie has spoken of her journey during National Apprenticeship Week, which aims to raise awareness of this way of entering the world of work.

“When lockdown happened, like many others, I had to start working from home,” Lucie said. “But watching the news I felt inspired by the hard work of people in the NHS, so I thought about a complete change in my career.

“I also realised that I didn’t want to sit at a desk for the next 40 years, it just wasn’t for me.

“I decided to have a look at the different types of careers out there, and although I knew I wanted to do something in the healthcare sector, I didn’t really have any ideas of what would best suit me.

“I didn’t think of radiography at all, and it had never crossed my mind until I started doing some research. I randomly stumbled across it, decided to find out more, and realised it was the only thing I could imagine myself doing.”

She said further investigation revealed she would need to take courses to qualify – which she did in her spare time while still working in finance.

“That gave me the qualifications to be able to apply to university, but after weighing it up, I realised it just wasn’t viable for me as I wouldn’t have been able to afford it,” she said.

Lucie works at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. Picture: Google

Lucie works at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. Picture: Google

“I wanted to keep my dream alive, so I started looking at the apprenticeship route and found a great course through Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (FT) and I was lucky enough to get the job.

“It’s quite competitive, so I was very proud of myself for getting a place.”

Lucie began her apprenticeship at Musgrove Park, where she’s based in the hospital’s radiology department four days a week, with one day for study leave.

“The first year of my apprenticeship was very x-ray-based, which was great as we get to learn all about the anatomy and about how x-rays are produced – the physics side of it, which is all very interesting and easy to learn,” she added.

“A typical day for me would be x-raying patients who may have been referred in by their GP, or someone who has come through our emergency department, such as those with broken bones.

“I get to go into CT and MRI too and learn how to do those type of scans, which is really interesting. It’s so varied and I could be anywhere. I might spend time in ultrasound, nuclear medicine, but most of the time it’s x-ray based.

“I also have a protected study day every week, which is where I do all my online learning and academic work. By learning the theory that lays behind the practical work I’m doing, it all ties in nicely.”

Once qualified, the world of radiology is her oyster, and Lucie doesn’t have fixed long-term plans.

“I think I’ll stay in x-ray for the first couple of months, but I genuinely don’t yet know where I want my career to head after that,” she said.

“People tend to go into lots of different medical imaging routes, and I’ll see how it goes in the first couple of months of being qualified.

“I absolutely love being an apprentice and find the support from my colleagues is fantastic, all our radiographers are amazing and are keen to teach and clearly want me to succeed as well.

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity of an apprenticeship, which is an amazing path into a career, especially if you’re classed as a mature student or if you have a family at home.

“I think back to those days when I was stuck behind a desk working from home in the pandemic, and compare what I was doing then to what I’m doing now. I’m so much happier, and am loving working at Somerset FT.”

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