Lincolnshire hospital boss shares his apprenticeship success story

John Ulyatt, a 41 year-old hospital director from Liverpool has shared his personal apprenticeship success story, in the hope that it will encourage others to make the most of what further education has to offer.
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Starting his course in 2021, John completed a masters level apprenticeship degree programme alongside managing The Lincoln Hospital on Nettleham Road. Describing the experience as “empowering” Mr Ulyatt hopes that his experiences will help others get the most out of learning in different ways.

“I had been in a management position for several years but had never had any formal training”, Mr Ulyatt explained.

Mr Ulyatt who began his career as a radiographer, climbed the career ladder following a series of successful positions as a Clinical Services Manager and eventually Director of Operations at the Circle Health Group hospital at the Thornbury Hospital in Sheffield.

John Ulyatt graduating John Ulyatt graduating
John Ulyatt graduating

The experiences gained in these roles, put Mr Ulyatt in a position to become the Executive Director at The Lincoln Hospital.

“My background was in radiography and all of my post-graduate studies had been in that field.

"I wanted to learn more and following my appointment as Director of Operations I learnt that I could do a degree level apprenticeship in leadership and management which is backed by my employer,” Mr Ulyatt.

Following conversations with the senior management at the hospital, Mr Ulyatt enrolled on to a global leadership and management in healthcare' masters which was accredited by Teesside University.

As part of the course, apprentices explore the concept of leadership in healthcare through a personal, professional, and organisational lens.

They are also introduced to and draw upon theoretical perspectives to illustrate the complexity of leadership within the health and care sectors. The course gave Mr Ulyatt the skills and opportunity to see different management approaches, something he cites as of being particular value in his current role.

“The course was great and one of the best parts of the apprenticeship programme was learning about the firsthand experiences of members of my cohort. It was interesting to hear about the NHS management styles as well as other healthcare organisations.”

He went onto say that: “This gave me a great understanding of how to approach managing different people in different settings.

"The skillset I developed was invaluable when I transitioned from Director of Operations to an Executive Director. It’s one thing to learn but putting the learning into an everyday context is what makes an apprenticeship so much more valuable.”

The course was not always easy and running a large private hospital full-time as well as raising a young family presented its challenges.

“Balancing everything was a real challenge at times. My commute can often be an hour and a half each way, so I am up and out the door very early and often return late into the evening. Working full-time as well as having a young family all made completing my studies challenging.

“I reserved eight weekends in a row to complete my dissertation, however the feeling when I completed the course was incredible. It was a mixture of relief and pride, I was very thankful for the support from everyone at the hospital,” Mr Ulyatt explained.

Finishing his qualification in August 2023, Mr Ulyatt felt equipped and empowered to use his newfound skills to make a difference to patients and colleagues alike.

He explained that: “I don’t think people talk enough about how important an apprenticeship can be for boosting confidence and providing a practical application for skills and knowledge. I started my role as an Executive Director halfway through the course, I was learning on the job in some ways, but practical experience is so important.”

As National Apprenticeship Week 2024 kicks off, Mr Ulyatt is hopeful his example will encourage others to make the most of further educational opportunities.

“Completing an apprenticeship was so worthwhile. Going back to school later on in life can often be daunting, believe me, but the skills you pick up and more importantly the opportunity to apply them can be genuinely life-changing. I would encourage everybody to explore what an apprenticeship programme might offer them.”

Mr Ulyatt is one of seven apprentices from across The Lincoln Hospital who began or finished their qualifications in 2023. Last year alone, over 200 apprentices started their apprenticeship journey at Circle Health Group.

Since launching the apprenticeship programme in 2017, 35 different bespoke programmes aimed at recruiting and retaining talent in clinical and non-clinical roles. Have been launched by Circle Health Group across the UK.

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