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George Stewart, NHS apprentice radiotherapy engineer

George Stewart tells us why he chose to become an apprentice with the Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

George Stewart, Apprentice

University never really appealed to me, so an apprenticeship was the perfect choice. I liked the idea of being able to work and earn while completing my studies. Growing up, I wanted to be a mechanic as I had a passion for cars. However, one of my family members had struggled to find regular work as a car mechanic, so I decided I would need to work in a more specialist role. My grandad was an engineer and this, along with my enjoyment of the subject, meant I chose to pursue an engineering apprenticeship.

How did your plans for an apprenticeship affect the choices you made at school?

When I was at school I always enjoyed technology-based subjects, such as physics. When it came to choosing my A-levels, this informed my choices and I decided to take physics, maths, product design and geography.

Where do you work?

I work as an Apprentice Radiotherapy Engineer at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. Both my parents worked in the NHS and the knowledge that I am helping others every day through my apprenticeship is really important to me.  

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy that the role is really varied and covers many areas of physics and engineering, for example ionising radiation, preventative maintenance and fault response. It has also provided me with many opportunities for further learning and personal development. Through my apprenticeship I have been able to achieve industry-recognised qualifications and certificates in both Engineering and Health & Safety.

I enjoy learning specialist knowledge that cannot be covered by an ‘off-the-shelf’ college course and have learnt a lot from the experience of more senior engineers. I feel my apprenticeship has taught me many skills that I couldn’t have otherwise learnt. On top of all this, working in the NHS has helped me to get a sense of satisfaction – it’s great knowing that my work will ultimately help to improve the patient pathway through the Radiotherapy Department.

What is your next career step?

I will complete my Higher National Certificate in May 2019 and this will coincide with the end of my Apprenticeship. After that, I have the option to either continue studying towards a Higher National Diploma qualification, or enrol on an Engineering Degree at university. Both of these options will be completed on a day release basis as I hope to continue employment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust after my apprenticeship.

Any advice for someone considering an apprenticeship?

I would advise anyone looking into an apprenticeship to ensure that they have an interest in both the job role and the field they are entering. Before embarking upon an apprenticeship, they should take advantage of any learning or training experiences they are offered, and visit both their workplace and college, which will help them get a feel for the job before they commit to anything.

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