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Medical Gap Year: Becoming a Healthcare Assistant

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    (Original post by rae_)
    Thanks, I've tried but they mostly require a level 3 NVQ :/


    Ah nevermind I found a place that doesn't
    You definitely don't need level 3! Not unless you're looking at band 4 posts. I've been a HCA for nearly 2 years now and I didn't need any qualifications, I did however have to do an NVQ level 2 in H&SC on the job but it was very easy and not that much work.


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    (Original post by Bubble87)
    You definitely don't need level 3! Not unless you're looking at band 4 posts. I've been a HCA for nearly 2 years now and I didn't need any qualifications, I did however have to do an NVQ level 2 in H&SC on the job but it was very easy and not that much work.


    This was posted from The Student Room's iPad App
    Yeah, most job adverts on the NHS website will say that you either need an NVQ Level 2 or 3 in Health and Social Care, or you must be willing to work towards that particular qualification on the job. As long as you write in the application (in the 'Supporting Statement' section that you're willing to work towards such a qualification, you should be fine)
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    I've been trying to get a HCA/NA position at the local hospitals for ages and they've always asked for experience in a hospital. I've actually given up and decided to try and get a job in a care home instead!
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    I pretty much got a job in ED after I left school. I've been working in EDs on and off for three years (I have 1 years experience FT, pretty much worked full time over holidays during first two years of uni, currently working PT) and you don't need an NVQ, and I have a a larger skillset and extended roles than any ward based HCA (and some medical students).

    Bare in mind most places won't really look favourably on you if you say that you'll only be there for 6 months or less - the time it takes to train you and get you acquainted with everything will basically be when you resign. To be fair, most jobs would be like that. If I recall, most jobs would want you to have 6 months experience - there are a few (and far between) that don't ask for any experience, so read the JDs and person specs carefully.


    Being a HCA is probably one of the better jobs for experience, but there are other jobs to look at - phlebotomist (some places will provide training), GP HCAs, OT/Physio/Rehab support workers, ambulance service call handlers etc.
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    What medical schools were your 4 offers from?
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    (Original post by NornIronKitKat)
    Or you can do bank HCA-ing which is great because you can pick and chose when to work, and you see so much more. I've been in clinics, on AAU, on surgical and medical wards, as well as spending time with the critical care nurses doing their outreach work!

    Hey I was wondering how you got into bank HCA? like what did you do? How did you apply?
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    (Original post by koolkat95)
    Hey I was wondering how you got into bank HCA? like what did you do? How did you apply?
    I am a bank HCA and it is fantastic. Firstly, you pick your shifts as you go, and you can work crazily much or take off several weeks or months of holidays. Secondly, you see all kinds of wards, and you might even work alongside doctors, which I found really exciting! More about that below. Thirdly, the pay is actually better. If you work the same hours as a permanent band 2 HCA, you will earn more.
    I think the only significant disadvantage is that, if you like familiarity, you will perhaps be unhappy that you get to work with so many different staff members/in different environments, some of the wards use ipads, some of them papers, some of them don't have certain equipment etc., and you might not build as strong relationships with your patients as someone who works on one ward all the time. However, I made the experience that, since you might end up working on the same ward frequently, you do get the possibility to make "friends" with staff and see the same patients again.

    So what I mean with diverse experience ... In most wards you get to do all the standard things, which I am happy to carry out but are not particularly inspiring per se, e.g. feeding, toileting, bathing, turning, observations, documentation. But then you might have the opportunity to work with outpatients and doctors. I spent one day in an orthopaedic unit and was allocated to a surgeon who would see patients on whom they would operate on a different day. I checked patients in, got their patient notes, accompanied them to the doctor, and if there was nothing urgent to do, the doctor would encourage me to stay with him until shortly before the end of the consultation. Then I would arrange for the next patient to come in. I would also check the notes for any referral letters, any X ray requests etc. and make sure patients do all necessary tests before they see the doctor. So alongside with the eye-opening hands-on work on the inpatient wards, this was a really different and 'relaxing' experience but also allowed me to shadow some doctors while getting paid!

    Apply as soon as possible as depending on the hospital it can take up to half a year until you start work!
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    I'd be wary of banking.The variety is nice, and if you do stick to a few places that you enjoy and work hard you will fit in like a normal member of the team. But in the hospital I work I see some of the bank, and even more so agency, staff get treated like ****. Getting stuck on 1-2-1's for their whole shift and generally feeling unwelcomed and not a part of the team.

    On the ward I work this happens more so with those who don't pull their weight. Some bank staff know they would choose not to come back, so don't put the effort in at the time, as the ward I work on is incredibly busy and often understaffed. But I have some good friends who are bank staff because they work really hard and know what they're doing.
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    (Original post by YeloSweetPotato)
    I am a bank HCA and it is fantastic. Firstly, you pick your shifts as you go, and you can work crazily much or take off several weeks or months of holidays. Secondly, you see all kinds of wards, and you might even work alongside doctors, which I found really exciting! More about that below. Thirdly, the pay is actually better. If you work the same hours as a permanent band 2 HCA, you will earn more.
    I think the only significant disadvantage is that, if you like familiarity, you will perhaps be unhappy that you get to work with so many different staff members/in different environments, some of the wards use ipads, some of them papers, some of them don't have certain equipment etc., and you might not build as strong relationships with your patients as someone who works on one ward all the time. However, I made the experience that, since you might end up working on the same ward frequently, you do get the possibility to make "friends" with staff and see the same patients again.

    So what I mean with diverse experience ... In most wards you get to do all the standard things, which I am happy to carry out but are not particularly inspiring per se, e.g. feeding, toileting, bathing, turning, observations, documentation. But then you might have the opportunity to work with outpatients and doctors. I spent one day in an orthopaedic unit and was allocated to a surgeon who would see patients on whom they would operate on a different day. I checked patients in, got their patient notes, accompanied them to the doctor, and if there was nothing urgent to do, the doctor would encourage me to stay with him until shortly before the end of the consultation. Then I would arrange for the next patient to come in. I would also check the notes for any referral letters, any X ray requests etc. and make sure patients do all necessary tests before they see the doctor. So alongside with the eye-opening hands-on work on the inpatient wards, this was a really different and 'relaxing' experience but also allowed me to shadow some doctors while getting paid!

    Apply as soon as possible as depending on the hospital it can take up to half a year until you start work!

    Oh wow thats so cool. I hope to study medicine one day and I think this would be the perfect job in the mean time. I recently called my local hospital bank department and they sent me their application form so hopefully all goes well.

    Just a few follow up questions. Were you nervous when you first went into wards? Did you have any previous experience before bank HCA-ing. The only experience I've had so far is at nursing homes.

    Thanks a lot
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    (Original post by koolkat95)
    Oh wow thats so cool. I hope to study medicine one day and I think this would be the perfect job in the mean time. I recently called my local hospital bank department and they sent me their application form so hopefully all goes well.

    Just a few follow up questions. Were you nervous when you first went into wards? Did you have any previous experience before bank HCA-ing. The only experience I've had so far is at nursing homes.

    Thanks a lot
    It is a good job for anyone interested to work in healthcare, be it nursing, medicine, ... as it introduces you to the routine of wards, all the potentially unpleasant aspects of healthcare and makes you develop skills like patience, resilience, responsibility, confidence in manually handling and speaking to patients, etc.

    I had only volunteered in nursing homes before my job and did only the easiest tasks there because the senior nurses and student nurses did most of the work and I was there as a 'future medical student', also I had shadowed doctors and nurses in theatres and doctors in their practices but didn't have proper hands on experience. So yes, I was definitely nervous when going on ward and was convinced I could harm someone seriously or that the nurses would despise me for my lack of confidence and experience, I felt a bit lost in the first minutes of each of my first three shifts as I had forgotten the routine, and my first ever and very clumsy observations (blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation ...) had to be performed on a confused elderly under the scrutiny of an impatient porter, a senior healthcare assistant and the relative of that patient.

    But after that you settle immediately. Seriously, the job is SO easy and if you have the potential to become a doctor, you can also perform WELL in your job and really put into use and improve your compassion, communication skills, and so on. The hours can be long and some patients/relatives/fellow healthcare workers might not always be easy but I still find the job very straightforward. Busy but easy. You will be really glad that you have had the experience later on because when you go on ward as a medical student you will feel familiar and be able to assist anyone who asks for your help easily, and your first practical handling of patients will not be frightening at all (e.g. if you're asked to take blood, to take some observations, to examine a patient) as you are used to obtaining consent, taking blood sugar, doing all standard observations, hoisting them around, turning them, changing their clothes and wash them, sliding them across the bed, helping them toilet, etc.!

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