Sarah Cutler - Medical Retina Nurse Specialist

Monday marked the first day of National Apprenticeship Week. This week we are showcasing some of our wonderful employees, here at UHS, that began their journey by being employed by UHS and working on their Apprenticeship. 

Meet Sarah, a Medical Retina Nurse Specialist from our Opthalmology department who started as a apprentice with us, here at University Hospital Southampton.

sarah cutler

What is your role and what does your role entail?

I work in Southampton Eye Unit as a Medical Retina Nurse Specialist. During my normal working week I have 4 sessions in the Medical Retina Suite injecting patients eyes with sight preserving medication, see patients in clinic with the consultants and doctors, assist the grading of scans from our virtual clinics and contact patients at home to offer support understanding of eye condition and treatment plans.

When did you start your apprenticeship and what was your background?

I started my apprenticeship with the Open University in 2018 and qualified as a registered nurse in 2021. In 2009 I joined the Ophthalmology team as a band 3 Senior Health Care Assistant after completing NVQ2 and 3 in health and social care at college. Before working at University Hospital Southampton I worked as a care assistant at a dementia care home.

What training and development have you had with your time at UHS?

I completed a foundation degree in Health and Social Care at Solent University in 2014, Nursing Degree/Apprenticeship 2021.

What is the overall team environment like?

Everyone I have met at UHS has been caring and helpful, from teachers and students on training days, to the team of nurses I get ready within the changing room each morning!! The Eye Unit has a real family feel to it. Everyone in the team is so supportive of each other, nothing is too much trouble.

Why did you choose an Apprenticeship rather than more ‘traditional’ routes such as university?

When I finished school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just wanted to work and earn money and socialise with my friends. I didn’t settle down properly until I was in my early 20’s and had never thought I would be clever enough to become a nurse. I choose an apprenticeship route because it allowed me to continue working for UHS in a department I loved, still earn money, and learn at the same time.

Before joining at UHS, what was it that appealed to you?

A family member encouraged me to apply to UHS after completing NVQ’s 2 and 3. It was a frightening thought at the time, I didn’t think I would have the skills to be considered but the team used the skills I had and in turn, taught me a brand new set of skills to go with them.

What do you feel is world-class at UHS?

The fact that patients and families are UHS’s top priority, our research departments are outstanding, the eye unit is one of the best in the UK, the education and training is amazing

What are your favourite benefits about working at UHS?

Southampton is a great place to live, near to the New Forest. Support during cost-of-living crisis- reduced food in canteen and support fund. The education and family feel.

Is there a moment during your apprenticeship that made you feel proud to have joined UHS?

During all of my placements I felt so proud getting to know the individual teams. The work they do in each area is remarkable. Their knowledge and commitment is amazing. The UHS is full of hardworking and committed teams that definitely make me feel prod being part of UHS

What support have you had from your mentors, colleagues and UHS? 

Everyone I came across before and after the apprenticeship have been nothing but supportive. The education lead in the eye unit has been amazing. She supported me through my preceptorship and still offers guidance and support now. My manager is brilliant, I feel I can be open and honest and value the advice and knowledge they share with me. My previous manager is still very supportive of me. My colleagues old and new continue to be a great support. The team feeling has never gone away.

To find more about our apprenticeships and what they can offer, click here.

Lead the way, apply today.