25th January 2019

Image: Adam Cramp (Apprentice of the Year winner) and Robyn McIntosh from West London NHS TrustSkills for Health and Healthcare Apprenticeships Standards Online recently met with Adam Cramp, one of England’s first nursing degree apprentices (NDA), working at Broadmoor hospital. Adam recently won Apprentice of the Year at the Our Health Heroes Awards in November 2018. We met with Adam to hear his story, how he became an apprentice and what his experience of being an OHH winner is like.



Adam left school without any A-levels and is now an apprentice at Broadmoor hospital, which will lead to him becoming a Registered Nurse. Adam previously spent eight years working in retail when he decided he wanted a change of scenery. He applied to work in security at Broadmoor hospital, where he worked for ten months, doing shifts on the wards. Adam realised that he wanted to work with patients, which led him to work as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA). Whilst working as a HCA, Adam decided that his future lay as a member of the nursing workforce; ultimately aiming to become a Registered Nurse. When Adam heard that his organisation was taking on apprentices in nursing, he approached his manager and applied for the nursing degree apprenticeship (NDA) when it became available.

“As a mature student you have so many things to worry about - bills, rent, and it would have been impossible for me to have the money to attend university as a regular student, so an apprenticeship really is the best way in.” - Adam Cramp - Apprentice of the Year Winner 2018

Our Health Heroes

Adam had been working as one of the first nursing degree apprentices in England for just over six months, when the Trust nominated him for the nationally recognised Our Health Heroes awards, run by Skills for Health. Adam was nominated for the Apprentice of the Year award, which celebrates the inspiring contribution made by an apprentice within their organisation. Nominees were shortlisted based on a criteria which included being an effective colleague, putting learning into practice, demonstrating an impact for their organisation, being an ambassador for apprenticeships and much more. Adam exceedingly met all ten criteria for the apprentice category and became one of three finalists, going on to win first place, as voted for by the public.

“We get feedback from people and I kept hearing Adam’s name and then I had an email from one of the service managers who said if all apprentices were like Adam, they would have taken ten. Even our consultant in the ward was taking advice from Adam because he had experience as a Healthcare Assistant and was able to put his learning into practice. As an apprentice the managers expected Adam to be there to learn, but he was also able to teach and share his experiences with people around him.” - Ali Webster - Assistant Director of Workforce

Winning the award

Adam told us… “When I first saw the email to say that I had been nominated I was shocked. Then reading through what people had written about me I was speechless, I just thought what I was doing was normal of student nurses. Actually winning the award I was surprised, I had convinced myself it was going to be one of the other guys. I was quite proud of myself, especially being one of the first NDA’s and being able to represent my cohort. Since winning, the response has been amazing. I have been featured in two local newspapers and received a letter from the MP of Bracknell Forest. I have also recently completed an interview for The Guardian, and I am now in the process of preparing a presentation on mental health to be presented to border force agents.”

Day-to-day as an apprentice

The apprentices at West London Trust attend university on block release, so that there is less disruption for the service and for the apprentices themselves. Adam and the other thirteen nursing degree apprentices from West London Trust attend Buckingham New University alongside a group of apprentices from other trusts. The group has a mix of mental health nurses, general nurses and a paediatric nurse.

“It is nice getting together with other apprentices. For example, when we are having group discussions, the general nurse apprentices can give us their side of things and we, as mental health nurse apprentices can provide a different side to things as well, therefore, we learn from each other.”

Adam tells us that being an apprentice isn’t at all different from being a student nurse through the University.

“I don’t get treated any differently and the placements and training are the same. I’ve had the same experience on placements as a normal student. The only difference is that when I am not at placement or at university, I am obliged contractually to do thirty-seven hours at work.”

Adam has found success thus far, through a combination of different factors, with the support provided by the Trust, the university and his managers. The Trust’s main concern was ensuring no-one was set up to fail. This can truly be seen when learning about Adam's apprenticeship journey. Adam and the other apprentices that he works alongside feel like they have all the support they need and know exactly who to go to when they need help.

Adam’s advice on applying

“Just go for it, if you have a general interest, just apply. I would encourage anyone who has an interest, to apply. Meeting the people on my course and the lecturers at university, the bond with them is incredible. We are only nine months into the apprenticeship, and we are so close, so I know that I will stay in touch with these people for the rest of my life.”

To find out more about Healthcare Apprenticeships Online, visit https://haso.skillsforhealth.org.uk/