fpm-3.jpg

Why apprenticeships could be right for your practice

To mark National Apprenticeship Week we are revisiting our chat with Kay Keane, Business Manager at Alvanley Family Practice, who has enjoyed great success using apprentices.


Kay's practice was featured in HEE’s Apprentices in Primary Care – Success in Practice booklet and she took time out of her busy schedule to discuss the benefits of using an apprenticeship scheme in general practice.


Why did you want to recruit an apprentice?

When I started working at Alvanley Family Practice in 2015 it was obvious that the partners were passionate about education; we always have medical students and F2s with us, however there wasn’t a structured route for administrative staff. All of our existing staff were working hard, giving a lot to us on goodwill, and I thought it was time to find a way to add some more skills to the team.

We were based around a mainly female workforce, and many of the staff were working part-time to support families, and at the time were not really interested in career progression or training. They were actually already completely occupied just getting the day job done.

There was no money for additional staff, but I did know there was funding for apprentices and thought that this might be a way to invigorate our workforce. It was the best thing that we ever did!

We now have three apprentices, two young people completing medical administration qualifications and another of our existing employees has just completed her AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification, which was funded by the scheme. We have managed to change the dynamics, change the culture and reenergise the workforce without really spending too much money.

How long did the whole process take to find the right person?

Our apprentice company do the first line of recruitment for us. Our role has been to do the final interviews. So that means that we usually interview two or three rather than the 25–30 who have applied. This has worked really well for us and saved masses of time.

We decided that the interviews should be as laid back and informal as possible, which fits with our practice’s personality. Young people may be attending for their first ever interview and I don’t feel that a formal, rigid conversation would get the best out of them.

I want people who have common sense and a voice - I don’t think you could find that out about someone without a more chatty, inquisitive approach. I always do quite a long session at interview about the role, the patient population and the kinds of things that they might see or be expected to do. I will know from their reactions if they’ll fit into the fast pace of general practice.

We then offer them a week’s trial, which is as much about them getting to know us and the environment as it is about us assessing them. It works well for our practice, and the feedback from staff is good.

How does the apprenticeship programme work for you and your practice?

We have been really lucky with the apprentices we have. I think this is partly because of our interview style and trail, but also because we make sure that we invest in them and ensure that they understand the way that we work and the importance we place on customer service and development.

We are a fabulous team (if I do say so myself) and very quickly we have ensured that they fit with our ethos and beliefs.

How does the apprenticeship programme work for you and your practice?

Our apprentices work 35 hours a week. The assessor comes to see them here to observe their work and we also give them time to do their formal exams. I was quite adamant that I wanted them to complete their AMSPAR qualification as well as the standard Level 2 apprenticeship, so we have incorporated that into an 18-month programme.

The quality of their work and knowledge after a few months is phenomenal and the rest of the team are learning from them – there’s often a medical terminology quiz going on in the office as they all test each other’s knowledge.

What advice would you give to PMs who are thinking about recruiting an apprentice?

If you are considering an apprentice at the moment, stop considering and get someone signed up! I am just working out a way we can have an apprentice HCA in the practice, giving a young person that doesn’t perhaps have the academic skills to go into a nursing career an opportunity to work in primary care. 

I am always happy to talk to other practice managers about our experience. I’m passionate about us ensuring that the next generation are encouraged to come into general practice because it is a fabulous, exciting and rewarding job – which I know we as practice managers can find it hard to remember when we are being squeezed in every way possible!


Is your practice interested in an apprenticeship programme or perhaps already taking part in one? If so, let us know about your experiences in the comments section below!


First published March 2017


Comments

Carla Wellborn 08/03/2019

We had an apprentice HCA and an apprentice Dispenser through Buttercups and both have been amazing. We have also an apprentice administrator through our local college. The support on this has been a little more hit and miss but overall it’s been a good experience all round.


Leave a Comment

Categories

Upcoming Events

There are currently no events scheduled.

Jobs

Practice Manager - Newquay, Cornwall

Closing Date: 4 October 2019

Salary: Negotiable, dependant on qualifications, skills and previous experience

Operations Manager - Amesbury, Wiltshire

Closing Date: 24 September 2019

Salary: Dependent on Experience

Practice Manager (Part-time) - Harrow

Closing Date: 11 October 2019

Salary: £26,000 (pro rata)

Business Manager - Torquay, Devon

Closing Date: 6 October 2019

Salary: Circa £50,000

Practice Manager - Woolpit, Suffolk

Closing Date: 26 September 2019

Salary: £55,000 p/a

Practice Manager - Nottinghamshire

Closing Date: 30 September 2019

Salary: Circa £36k to £45k

Practice Manager - London, EN1

Closing Date: 30 September 2019

Salary: Dependant on skills and experience

Practice Manager - Newquay, Cornwall

Closing Date: 4 October 2019

Salary: Negotiable, dependant on qualifications, skills and previous experience

Operations Manager - Amesbury, Wiltshire

Closing Date: 24 September 2019

Salary: Dependent on Experience

Practice Manager - Woolpit, Suffolk

Closing Date: 26 September 2019

Salary: £55,000 p/a

What others are viewing now

Latest Forum Posts

Fetching latest posts...