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Bradford College

Making a Difference Through Nursing: Mercedes Lewinson’s Apprenticeship Story

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, we tell the inspiring journey of Mercedes Lewinson. Driven by a passion for healthcare, she embarked on an apprenticeship, equipping her with invaluable skills and knowledge to make an impact in Nursing.

Get to Know Mercedes Lewinson

Amidst the high-stakes environment of Bradford Teaching Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department, a true healthcare champion named Mercedes Lewinson shines brightly.

“I’ve always known I wanted to do something in the health sector,” says Mercedes Lewinson.

The need for healthcare professionals like Mercedes is pressing. With nursing shortages hovering around 10%, according to NHS Digital, over 40,000 nursing positions sit vacant across the UK.

As a Nursing Associate, she bridges the gap between healthcare assistant and registered nurse, playing a vital role in the nursing team and providing care to people of all ages in diverse health and social settings.

Mercedes’ journey to becoming a Nursing Associate started at Bradford College, where she completed a Level 3 Health Care Support Worker apprenticeship. This programme provided her with the hands-on skills and knowledge that allowed her to progress to a Nursing apprenticeship.

Mercedes also resat and successfully passed her Maths GCSE while at Bradford College. This accomplishment ensured she met the entry requirements for her desired healthcare apprenticeship.

Now, she is on the verge of completing her level 5 Nursing Associate Higher level Apprenticeship with Bolton University.

Mercedes is not just fulfilling a personal goal, she’s keen on contributing more to the healthcare sector.

“Having the NVQ Level 3, Maths & English or Functional Skills equivalent, and some prior experience in health or social care setting was essential to become a nursing associate,” Mercedes explains. Bradford college was instrumental in getting her equipped for this career path.

“Having the NVQ Level 3, Maths & English or Functional Skills equivalent, and some prior experience in health or social care setting was essential to become a nursing associate,” Mercedes explains. Bradford college was instrumental in getting her equipped for this career path.

Reflecting on the challenges she overcame, Mercedes highlighted the support she received, particularly in finally passing her GCSE Maths after five previous attempts. “Math was never my strong suit,” she admitted, “until I finally passed it with Bradford College. What made all the difference was their unique approach. They broke everything down into manageable steps, and I never felt lost or overwhelmed. Plus, the support system was incredible. My tutors were always there to answer questions, and working in small groups with peers created a strong sense of community. We motivated each other and learned from each other’s strengths, which made a huge difference in my understanding.”

On Finding Balance; Juggling Work, Learning, and Mental Wellbeing

The path to becoming a Nursing Associate is an ambitious one, demanding immense dedication and resilience. For Mercedes, this journey wasn’t without its hurdles. As she diligently balanced the demands of work, academic studies, and personal life, the relentless juggle began to take its toll. “There were times,” she shares, “when the pressure became overwhelming, blurring the lines between work, study, and even personal time. It was during these moments that I started experiencing symptoms of depression.”

However, Mercedes is resilient, as she tried not to succumb to the challenges. Recognising the impact this strain was having on her mental well-being, she made the crucial decision to prioritise her health. “The importance of rest cannot be overstated,” she emphasises. “Working in the healthcare sector, surrounded by constant demands and emotional intensity, can be incredibly draining. I’m grateful I had the support system and awareness to listen to my body and take a breather when I needed it most.”

Taking a step back wasn’t an admission of defeat; it was a smart move to regroup and recharge. Mercedes’ decisive action wasn’t just about personal well-being; it was about ensuring she could return to her apprenticeship with renewed vigour and a clearer focus.

The Rewards of Doing What You Love and Doing it Well

While the daily rigour of apprenticeship often happens behind the scenes, there are moments of pure joy and fulfilment that reminds Apprentices like Mercedes of the profound impact they make.

For Mercedes Lewinson, such a moment arrived recently, a testament to her passion and work ethic.

“We had a nurse associate recognition day recently in the Trust,” Mercedes recounts. “And guess what? I was nominated for – and won – the Nurse Associate Award!”

Beyond the award itself, it’s the genuine appreciation from her colleagues that resonates deeply with Mercedes. “I received good feedback from my department, A&E,” she shares. “It’s nice to be recognised, you know? Sometimes you feel like you’re just under the carpet, cracking on, doing your job quietly. So, when the opportunity came up and people recommended me, it meant a lot.”

This recognition is a crucial validation of her dedication and the positive impact she has on patients and colleagues alike.

“Knowing that my efforts make a difference, that people see my contributions – that’s what truly fuels my passion for this profession.”

How Bradford College Empowers Apprentices like Mercedes

As Mercedes’ Lewinson reflects on her enriching journey as an apprentice, one aspect hits home: the transformative power of accessible education, particularly in less affluent communities. Bradford College’s innovative apprenticeship programme, she believes, stands as a beacon of hope for many in the Bradford community.

“I think it’s fantastic that Bradford College offers various levels of Apprenticeships,” Mercedes emphasises. “For people like me, opportunities like this are truly life-changing.” Bradford, with its high prevalence of communities facing economic disparities, presents a critical need for such accessible pathways.

Underscoring the vital role support plays, Mercedes also emphasised the significance of the funding she received through her employer, Bradford Teaching Hospital. This funding, she explained, “made it possible for me to pursue my apprenticeship without financial constraints.”

“Apprenticeships bridge the gap,” Mercedes continues. “You can earn while you learn, access funding, and ultimately gain valuable on-the-job experience while pursuing your qualifications. It allows people to progress in their careers without facing financial pressures.”

For many, this bridge proves invaluable, opening doors to fulfilling careers they may have otherwise considered unattainable.

Mercedes’ story isn’t just about personal success; it’s a testament to the ripple effect Apprenticeships create.

“Investing in apprenticeships benefits the entire community,” she insists. “It empowers individuals, and ultimately fosters skilled professionals, particularly in areas like Bradford.”

Inspired by Mercedes’ journey? Do you, like her, dream of making a difference in healthcare?

Take the first step towards your goal with Apprenticeships at Bradford College. Follow the links below to find out how to get started.