Andy, Work Experience - Armed Forces

 Andy Barker

Meet Andy, ex-veteran and now working within the film and TV industry. After attending UHS's first ever Armed Forces Insight Day last year. Andy had the opportunity to join us on a week's worth of work experience to learn more about the various department and opportunites UHS has to offer. We spoke to Andy to learn more about his time with us.

Please provide a summary of your week at UHS. 

I am ex QARANC and left the Army in 2021 after 24 years of service. During Covid, I helped manage a military infection control training team at Frimley Park Hospital.  

Since leaving the Military I have been working predominantly in film and television, mostly in med, although I also work in the location department, have recently completed a course on the Production Management pathway and started exploring the Assistant Director role. I recently gained a credit on Masters of the Air as the Volume Unit medic and was Covid Compliance Supervisor on a Paramount production.   

In the military, alongside my clinical role, I spent a lot of time delivering training to both the NHS and military and now own my own training and production support company which delivers to the education and film & television industries.  

Keen to get back into healthcare, specifically healthcare education, I spent the week under the guidance of Naomi from the Division B training team. This well-structured week enabled me to attend numerous classes that counted towards CPD. On Tuesday I spent the day with nurse preceptees learning about neurological and pain management. On Wednesday I was with overseas nurses as they learnt about managing the deteriorating adult patient. I spent  Thursday on a Patient Safety study day before refreshing my venepuncture and cannulation competency in the afternoon. An important skill to refresh as I hope to join the Emergency Department. Friday morning involved refreshing another competency, male catheterisation, followed by sitting in on a Shwartz round. 

Please describe any support you received from UHS to obtain this placement and assist with your onboarding.

I attended the Trust's Armed Forces Insight Day in late 2023 where I met several members of staff and got to learn a lot about what the Trust has to offer.  Andy Moss and Brenda Carter were the driving forces behind this placement, which was then facilitated by Kiran Kaur. As with any plan when it's first put into place there were some initial obstacles. One of the main ones being how to recognise my past clinical experiences. I've worked alongside the NHS for over ten years within hospitals and volunteering on frontline ambulances, but, as a non-registered member of staff, there is still much work that needs to be done to recognise what skills we can bring from the military. Andy and Brenda worked tirelessly to overcome these challenges and were ultimately able to put this placement into place.

Would you consider a career within UHS after you have completed your work experience? Please provide a reason with your answer.

From what I've seen of UHS I'm keen to work further for the Trust. I've already started the process of joining the bank with the aim of working within the Emergency Department. What's driving this for me is that they are the first Trust that has really pushed to try and recognise the skills non-registered nursing staff can bring to it. I've tried numerous times to gain employment within various NHS establishments but they've nearly always only offered roles that do not take into account my previous experience and have required me to start again at the bottom.

UHS appears to be working towards challenging that mindset. Also, as a reflection of my passion for high-end training, the ability any organisation has to effectively train its staff, and the effort it puts into delivering that is a reflection of how important it takes to develop its most important asset, its people. The facilities that I saw and used at UHS were superb. Clean and functioning simulation suites. Operational training aids that were maintained and worked. Well-laid out classrooms that were set up in advance of lessons by a team of technicians. 

What would you recommend or share about this opportunity to any armed forces colleagues?

I would recommend this opportunity to anyone leaving the armed forces and looking towards a career in healthcare. Not just clinical roles. A veteran was able to attend a placement before me, who was interested in more clerical work. What this placement does is it offers both the Trust and the service leaver the chance to "try before you buy" before either commits to the other. Whilst there is still a gap in the NHS being able to map across unregistered clinical staff, such as HCAs and CMTs, these sorts of placements give Trusts the opportunity to see what these members of staff can bring to the table in a safe, non-committed way.

The initial insight day that I attended was advertised with the Careers Transition Partnership (CTP). I strongly recommend that service leavers keep an eye out on their social media or subscribe to email updates. 

Have you had any involvement with the armed forces network at UHS? If not, do you know much about it and do you think it would support you in any future employment?

I've not yet been directly involved with the UHS armed forces network, other than to meet them at the service leavers insight day. However, I am aware of them. I think it's a great incentive. I'm aware that other Trusts have tried, to implement such a scheme so the fact that UHS has managed to do so, and see it thrive, is a testament to how seriously it takes the NHS's commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. The Armed Forces community is often very close-knit. Leaving it can be a real shock to the system. Having a community of service leavers that new starters can relate to can help lessen the shock of the capture of civi street. 

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