From finance to radiography: Lucie’s apprenticeship journey
Growing our own workforce is more important than ever as the NHS faces staffing challenges, not just here in Somerset, but across the country.
This week is National Apprenticeship Week, which aims to raise awareness of this great way of entering the world of work. It’s already making a huge impact in Somerset’s NHS by giving existing and new colleagues an opportunity to forge a career in healthcare.
After becoming tired of her career in finance, Lucie Armson did just that and pursued a dream of becoming a qualified radiographer.
It was during the pandemic that Lucie wanted to try something different, and inspired by the hard work of colleagues in the NHS, she began to think of what role she might be able to do in the health service.
“When lockdown happened, like many others, I had to start working from home," she says. "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.
“When I started looking into it further, it became clear the best way into the career would be to undertake an Access to Higher Education Diploma, an online distance learning course, which I did part time while I was still working in my finance job.
“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.
“I wanted to keep my dream alive, so I started looking at the apprenticeship route and found a great course through Somerset 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 Hospital, where she’s based in our radiology department four days a week, with one day for study leave.
She continues: “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.
“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 I’ve qualified, 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. 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 more happier, and am loving working at Somerset FT!”