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BTEC students give thumbs up to placement

Colleagues at West Suffolk Hospital have recently been joined by ten students from West Suffolk College. All on the BTEC health and social care course, the students completed 100 hours on various wards and departments alongside their classroom learning, experiencing what it’s like to work in a busy NHS hospital.

The students shadowed staff and supported patients in a variety of areas, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, pharmacy, ophthalmology, safeguarding and the tissue viability service. To give them an immersive experience, they gained insight into what it’s like to provide care to patients through the Trust’s simulation suite in its Education Centre.

Each student gave a presentation about their time at the hospital and their ambitions for the future. Many of these ambitions related specifically to the areas they worked in while getting involved in the day-to-day operation of the hospital.

This placement is one example of the enduring partnership between the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), which runs the Bury St Edmunds hospital, and West Suffolk College. Students from previous cohorts are now completing their nursing degree courses.

Alex Levitt-Powell, lead practice education facilitator for the Trust, said: “It has been a pleasure to support the BTEC students from West Suffolk College. The placements we offer gives all students an insight into acute care at the West Suffolk Hospital and will support their career plans moving forwards. In supporting the BTEC placements we have further strengthened our close relationship with West Suffolk College and look forward to supporting subsequent groups of BTEC and T-Level students. It is essential that we ensure quality placement opportunities to support those in our local community who are exploring health as their career of choice.”

Hannah Swallow, work placement assessment officer for health and social sciences for West Suffolk College, said: “This outstanding opportunity for students has provided a supported insight into the advantages of working within the NHS and encourages students to consider nursing as a vocation. We cannot thank West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust enough for the opportunities they have given to the students. Their ongoing support is vital for us as a college and a department to be able to offer these students the experiences they need to become our future healthcare workforce.”

Talking about their time at the hospital, Jasmine, 17, said: “It was really good. The staff we were shadowing were really supportive and helpful, especially with answering any questions I had.”

On whether they would recommend the course and placement, Jasmine said: “Yes. It definitely gave us insight into what a clinical role is like and how you can have a clinical role that isn’t on the wards, but still in a fast-paced environment.”

J, 17, speaking about their experience said: “I have really enjoyed it, everywhere I’ve been people were really welcoming, and when we came back to meet after working in different departments everyone had different stories to tell. It has been really constructive, especially when trying to figure out where I’d like to be in the future.”

Commenting on the course, J said: “I couldn’t recommend this course more, even for this placement alone. During the placement we have all really enjoyed it, even if we’ve seen something that might be a little negative or a little bit scary. It was a positive experience and something that we can learn from and use to decide where to go in our futures, it’s been a really amazing opportunity.”

J, who won the Bury Free Press’s Young Citizen of the Year Award, has recently secured a position at the WSFT. Alex continued: “We look forward to welcoming J back on a permanent basis and supporting others on the placement in deciding their career of choice once they have completed their BTEC in summer 2023.”

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Students from West Suffolk College who have completed their learning at the West Suffolk Hospital.

Students from West Suffolk College who have completed their learning at the West Suffolk Hospital.