Developing the cancer workforce through the national apprenticeship programme

Apprenticeships will provide new training routes into the cancer workforce, including enabling existing staff to remain in employment whilst training for new roles. Health Education England has facilitated the development of several apprenticeship standards.

We spoke to Diane Burns who is an Apprentice Mammography Associate – Level 4 working at who works for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Why did you choose to do this apprenticeship?

I have worked within the Breast Imaging Unit as a Radiography Assistant for a number of years and really enjoy my varied role that includes assisting with ultrasound-guided biopsies and examinations and also taking care of patients during and after the procedure. I was always eager to progress and build upon the skills I already possessed so when the opportunity arose for me to train through an apprenticeship route, it was a no-brainer. This meant that I could continue to work within my department whilst gaining the practical skills and knowledge required for the Mammography Associate role. The course is delivered online and includes virtual classroom-based learning, employer led clinical training and regular progress reports. A minimum of 20% off-the-job learning is required and this is supported by an online learning hub.

What is your proudest apprentice achievement to date?

Personally, producing diagnostic-value mammograms for the National Breast Screening Programme. Before I started the course, I felt anxious about returning to learning and training after a number of years and it has been a huge learning curve, both practically and academically. However, I have received tremendous support from my personal mentor and also from the rest of the radiological team within my department as well as from the Breast Imaging Academy.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking starting an apprenticeship like this?

The obvious point is being able to train whilst working and also that further career progression is possible. It is never too late in life to re-train as long as you are up for the challenge. I have become an apprentice along with two of my children who are both serving apprenticeships within other organisations.