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Health & Social Care student Krisi HamillHealth & Social Care student Krisi Hamill
Health & Social Care student Krisi Hamill

Deciding what to do for a career can be difficult. Getting work experience might just make or break your decision to pursue a career path. Eighteen-year-old Krisi Hamill did exactly that.

Leaving secondary school with eleven GCSEs, this star pupil set out on a mission to gain as much experience as possible. This has evidently paid off as Krisi enrolled on a Level 3 Health and Social Care Advanced Technical Award course, the equivalent to 3 A levels, and has now gained firm unconditional offers from several universities to study midwifery on the back of this education and work placement. A firm offer from universities without attending an interview is like gold dust, it rarely happens.

On deciding whether to return to secondary school to complete A-levels, Krisi looked into university entry requirements and took on board advice from healthcare professionals working on the wards. This led her to consider the Health and Social Care Advanced Technical Award Level 3 Extended Diploma at Southern Regional College’s Armagh campus. The course is also offered on the College’s Newry and Lurgan campuses.

Advanced Technical Awards are ideal for students who know which occupation or industry they want to pursue. By choosing a course specific to her area of interest, Krisi knew the Advanced Technical Award would advance her chances of gaining a midwifery place at university.

Demand for workers in the health sector is high. In fact, the latest Northern Ireland Skills Barometer report set out one of the largest growth sectors in Northern Ireland was expected to be within health and social work. With high growth rates there’s also a requirement for workers with higher qualifications, i.e. degree level and above. Despite this, competition for undergraduate degree places in healthcare remains fierce.

So how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd? Krisi made herself stand out by firstly, undertaking the Health and Social Care Advanced Technical Award, and secondly gaining a vast range of work experience in various hospital settings. The Advanced Technical Award requires students to gain 200 hours of work experience, which Krisi has in abundance. Krisi first started working at Craigavon Area Hospital in the summer prior to starting her level 3 qualification as a domestic assistant. This allowed her to observe different roles in the hospital.

Krisi said: “I started working in the in hospital during summer before I started the Advanced Technical Award. Then from that, I just took different job roles. I started as a domestic, so I was cleaning the wards and doing breakfasts. I was seeing how the hospital worked every day and this made me want to see other healthcare career options.”

From this, Krisi has worked as an administrative assistant which involved note taking and undertaking discharge paperwork. She undertook additional training as a healthcare assistant and was able to work on the wards and subsequently a maternity care support worker. This has led Krisi to see midwifery as her future career. Krisi says: “I did the healthcare assistant training to see if I was interested in nursing. And then I was like, no, definitely not. So, the maternity care support position came up and it made me realise that I was interested in midwifery. I’ve only applied for university courses in midwifery this year. So, it’s all or nothing really.”

To undertake the level 3 Advanced Technical Award, students attend College 80% of the week building on theory and practical skills. The remaining 20% is spent on placement with an employer to embed skills and knowledge. The course combines examinations with a range of coursework methods, including group work, essays, research projects, practical investigations, written reports and presentations. As courses are designed alongside industry demands, the Advanced Technical Award provide students with a in dept understanding of their chosen subject, with the opportunity to go straight into employment, or higher education after completing the qualification.

James Colgan, Lecturer in Health and Social Care at Southern Regional College commented: “Krisi Hamill has been an exemplary student. She has engaged fully with the Level 3 Health and Social Care Advanced Technical Award and the wider college life experience here at Southern Regional College.

“Krisi has been disciplined in her approach to course demands and balanced this with developing friendship groups on the course and working closely with Health and Social Care lecturing team.”

Successful Advanced Technical Award student Krisi Hamill alongside personal tutor James Colgan
Successful Advanced Technical Award student Krisi Hamill alongside personal tutor James Colgan
Successful Advanced Technical Award student Krisi Hamill alongside personal tutor James Colgan

Success story

Krisi has completed in excess of 200 hours of work experience in health and social care during her time on the course building foundational experience in working within the health and social care environment that will serve her well when moving forward to an undergraduate degree course. Krisi has been unconditionally accepted onto Midwifery undergraduate degree courses in both Manchester and Liverpool. She has also applied for Midwifery, Adult nursing and Paediatric nursing in Queens and is awaiting a response following application.

James added: “Her strong profile of academic achievement has opened the door for Krisi when planning her next steps into Higher Education. Krisi has gained employment within the health trust as a health care assistant and has managed to work across various settings and hospitals which is building on her CV, experience and confidence while in the health and social care sector.

Krisi’s story is one of hardwork, perseverance and success. Her steps to success are a motivating factor for our lecturing team, demonstrate the high standards held at the College and are an inspiration to students ready to progress into health and social care or a wide range of courses held here within Southern Regional College.”

More choice for you

Southern Regional College offers prospective post GCSE students like Krisi Advanced Technical Awards in seven key occupational areas. This includes business, engineering, information technology, construction and the built environment, as well as two pathways in applied science, and health and social care. However, the scope of courses at the College for post GCSE students includes traineeships, apprenticeships and A-levels, plus adult access courses – perfect for individuals who previously left education with few of little qualifications.

To find out more about courses on offer, applicants are encouraged to attend the College’s open days in March, all from 5pm – 7pm. The first open day kicks off on Tuesday 5th March in the College’s Portadown campus. Subsequent open days are Wednesday 6th March in Newry West campus, Monday 11th March in the Armagh campus, followed by Lurgan campus on Wednesday 13th March and Banbridge campus on Thursday 14th March.

Find out more about the open events here and pre-book your time slot here.