Posted: 13.10.20 at 11:49 by Tim Lethaby
A new partnership between the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM) and Weston College has created an apprenticeship route which is enabling a trainee from Cheddar to qualify as an assistant practitioner while she learns on the job what it takes to work in the specialist field of fertility treatment.
For Cheddar's Cara Williams and her fellow apprentice Billie-Louise Whewell, from Eastville in Bristol, their apprenticeships at BCRM give them the chance to earn a foundation degree which could be the stepping stone to a full nursing degree and a career as a registered nurse.
BCRM, which has the highest success rate in the South West for IVF with 33 per cent of embryos transferred resulting in births, will deliver 80 per cent of the training on the job at the clinic.
Rebecca Palmer, BCRM’s fertility nurse manager, said: “The training programme is an exciting project for us as it is the first time we have trained assistant practitioners.
"With fertility being such a specialised area, the trainees will gain skills and knowledge they would be unlikely to obtain from a more general nursing or healthcare course at a college or university.
“The academic part of the two-year course will be conducted by Weston College and on successful completion the trainees will be qualified as assistant practitioners which is the nursing role that bridges the gap between a healthcare assistant and a registered nurse.”
Cara, who is 24 years old, is transferring to the clinical side having started off in NHS administration.
She said: “The prospect of becoming an assistant practitioner is very exciting, and the foundation degree the apprenticeship leads to will enable us to go further still and enrol directly into the second year of a nursing degree course and progress to become registered nurses.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity - all about constantly learning and developing - and it’s a real privilege to be able to work at BCRM throughout.
"It’s already clear they’re really dedicated to delivering good quality training to their staff, and it’s such an inspiring environment to work in.”
Throughout their training, Cara and Billie-Louise will study flexibly alongside their frontline work in the clinic which will allow them to put their newly-acquired knowledge and skills into practice immediately, for the positive benefit of patients.
BCRM offers both private and NHS patients a full range of fertility treatments, as well as assessments and tests to understand why couples may have problems getting pregnant.
More details about the services offered are here: https://www.fertilitybristol.com/ with live Zoom open evenings running twice-monthly to inform women and couples with fertility issues of the services on offer.