Gemma Birch: HCA and trainee nursing associate, HMP Oakwood

While many youngsters dream of training as a hairdresser, for Gemma Birch the reality did not deliver on the fulfilment she wanted from a career. Then a chance came to study for a career that would help her change the lives of those around her.

While many youngsters dream of training as a hairdresser, for Gemma Birch the reality did not deliver on the fulfilment she wanted from a career. Then a chance came to study for a career that would help her change the lives of those around her.

Headshot of Gemma Birch
Gemma Birch

Gemma explained: “I enjoyed hairdressing and the interaction with lots of other people, but it wasn’t enough. I knew I wanted to give more and so I started taking on care roles in addition. I really enjoyed supporting people with learning disabilities and other challenges.”

Gemma decided to commit to a career in care full-time and joined the team at HMP Oakwood. She said: “They are a wonderful team who support each other and are always there for you. It is one of the great things about working here. The other thing is the number of courses that are made available, and the training that is open to us.

“When Practice Plus Group offered me the chance to take on a nursing associate apprenticeship through the Open University, I jumped at it. My colleagues support me and the GPs and senior nurses act as mentors as I shadow them, and they sign off my work as proof for the course of my developing skills.”

Gemma, 27, is enjoying her course so much she is planning to study an extra year in order to become a registered nurse.

She said: “It has been a wonderful chance to revitalise my career and to ensure that, for my working life, I will be able to make a difference to the wellbeing of others.”

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