Medical simulation apprenticeships at Oxford Brookes University provide a career launch pad

Aliya Abbasi
Aliya Abbasi, medical technician apprentice

Harry Wood and Aliya Abbasi are kick-starting their careers as the first medical simulation technician apprentices at Oxford Brookes University.

As National Apprenticeships Week (5 to 11 February) 2024 begins, Harry and Aliya tell their stories. 

Harry (pictured below) joined the University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences in October 2022 after spending five years working in the retail sector. He was joined in October 2023 by Aliya who had previously been a pupil at Oxford’s Cherwell School where she achieved A-levels in biology, chemistry and psychology.

Harry and Aliya are paid to work at Oxford Brookes University while completing a 24-month apprenticeship delivered by the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust. 

They work with Oxford Brookes University’s cutting edge clinical simulation technology, operating human patient simulators and setting up immersive and realistic scenarios for current and future health and social care workers.  

Harry and Aliya’s hours are split: 80% of their time is spent working for Oxford Brookes University and 20% studying for their Simulation Technician Level 3 Education Technician Apprenticeship qualification. They study for their qualifications on site with daily protected hours between 10am and noon. 

Harry, who is originally from Brentwood in Essex, said: “After five years, mainly in retail, I wanted to look for my forever job and start my career. I knew friends who had done apprenticeships and enjoyed them. When I saw this position at Oxford Brookes, I thought at first I couldn’t move that far away from home, then I decided to go for it.”

“In this role you are learning something new every day. The academics are very welcoming. If I want to learn about their subjects, I can sit in on their teaching sessions. That gives me an understanding of what is being taught and means I can do my job better when I set up the laboratories and simulation spaces.”

“The clinical skills and simulation team’s office is a central hub for our services. If an academic has a question about the equipment, they come to see us. It’s a friendly environment and a really nice place to work.”

Aliya said: “The apprenticeship caught my eye because I’m not sure what I want to do as a career, so I didn’t want to do a university degree straight after my A-levels.

“Before the interview process I was invited in for an informal tour of the campus and my first impressions of the work culture and vibe appealed to me. Everyone was really friendly, informed, and explained that on the apprenticeship we get a glimpse at what different health care workers do.”

“From a young age health care is something I always wanted to do, because it’s helping others - I want to feel fulfilled and it’s something that’s really rewarding.”

Justin Cule, Clinical Skills and Simulation Manager at Oxford Brookes University, said: “Engaging in the apprenticeship scheme means that we have been able to support and develop individuals to grow within our workforce.

“Harry and Aliya work alongside skilled staff members to gain both broad and specific job based skills and knowledge that complement their programme of study. During the apprenticeship, the apprentice has the opportunity to explore areas of interest to them within a supportive, nurturing environment. They are also challenged to achieve their full potential as a respected member of the team.

“As a team, having apprentices encourages us to review our working practices and challenge our ways of working, to ensure we continually strive to deliver and develop a diverse and inclusive learning culture.”