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Tell us about yourself – what are you studying and where do you work?

My name is Rachel and I am a Senior Strategy Manager in the NHS, currently leading on a New Hospitals programme. This involves full project planning, from initial scoping of locations, costings, writing a case of need and the potential benefits and all the way through to the design and build phases.

I have just completed my Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship at the University of Chester.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

Prior to completing this degree I have achieved 11 GCSE’s, 4 A Levels and began a degree in History and Politics, though sadly due to personal circumstances I wasn’t able to complete the degree.  This has always stuck in my mind and when I was given the opportunity by my employer to undertake the CMDA I was absolutely thrilled.

I was working in the NHS at the time I found the CMDA course online and approached my manager to discuss the possibility of study leave and the Trusts Apprenticeship Levy.

That same day I was put in touch with our Hospitals Apprenticeship Lead and we began the discussions with the University of Chester about me joining.

I was the first person in my Hospital to undertake the CMDA but I now believe it is quite popular amongst a variety of staff.

Tell us a bit about how the apprenticeship model worked for you in practice?

When I first joined the CMDA it was pre-pandemic so I was lucky enough to have many face-to-face workshops, which I always found really fruitful. It was a great way to meet people from other organisations/careers and to share our own experiences, ideas and thoughts.

It was usually around 2 days every 3 months of classroom/lecture style learning and the remainder is done at distance/electronically.

I have been able to undertake a work-based project for all of my modules. In the early days of the course I would sometimes ask my Manager for ideas or pieces of her work that I could assist with, that would be relevant to the topic. However after 1 year of study on the CMDA I was lucky enough to get an “Assistant Manager” role for a Medical Clinical Business Unit and I found that much of the theory/modules aligned to my everyday job. I have been able to do a deep dive into recruitment marketing strategies, write a business case for delivering a new service, reflect on my behaviours as a manager, amongst many other projects. So I would definitely say there has been a personal and workplace gain from this opportunity.

What was your highlight of the 2020/21 academic year?

Since starting the CMDA I have actually changed jobs four times. This may seem a lot, but I like to take opportunities as they present. I also enjoy the prospect of challenging myself and learning new things, so alongside the degree I would say I’ve definitely grown a lot since that first day!

I have absolutely no doubt that this would not have been possible without the CMDA.  The ability to develop my presenting skills has helped me in 3 out of 4 interviews where I have had to deliver a presentation to a panel. In addition to this I have been able to use the theory I’ve learnt along with my work-based projects to demonstrate my knowledge and experience as a Manager and I do believe employees look for those who can demonstrate continual professional development.

I started as a Medical Education Coordinator and have since been an Assistant Manager for Medical Care, a Service Manager for Complex Care and now I am a Senior Strategy Manager.

I think the degree has taught me, as long as you dedicate time, apply yourself and have faith in your abilities, anything is possible. 

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