Former Doncaster student is wired for success

Bradie Cunningham at work
Bradie Cunningham at work

Trailblazer Bradie Cunningham was the first ever apprentice in clinical engineering, at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, when she began her career in 2016.

But two years on, the switched-on student from Doncaster is set to qualify with top marks.

Bradie in her apprentice role

Bradie in her apprentice role

The apprenticeship has given Bradie, 21, the chance to earn money while she learns within the working environment.

She is currently just months away from clinching top honours in her distance-learning degree at the University of the West of England, where she is studying for a BSc in Healthcare Science.

Originally from Doncaster, Bradie is a former Ash Hill Academy pupil who then went on to study at the John Leggott College in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire.

She said: “I always wanted to do engineering and knew a little bit about the electronics side of it as my older brother is an electrician.

Apprentice Bradie at work

Apprentice Bradie at work

“I studied engineering at college for two years and realised that I liked it.

“I then wanted to find a role where I could earn a salary while studying too, and found the apprenticeship at Bradford on the NHS Jobs website.

“I’ve been here for two years now and I’d recommend it to anyone!”

As part of her course Bradie takes part in two weekly webinars with university lecturers, completes regular assignments, and attends three week-long study schools in Bristol each academic year. 

She said: “I really enjoy working as part of the team at the Trust and the work that I do complements what I’m learning on my course.

“My colleagues have been a big help and often read over my assignment work and I also get a day-and-a-half each week to study.

“However, I do do nine hour days at work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays!”

Bradie added she is proud to be the clinical engineering department’s very first apprentice.

And she says her gender has never been an issue at all.

“I really like working here and would urge any girls looking at a career in engineering to go for it.

“The great thing about engineering is that there are many different types.

“Applying to be an engineer at the Trust was one of the best decisions I ever made!

“I think sometimes people are shocked that I am a girl, but as soon as they know that I know what I’m talking about they are fine.”

Since joining the Trust Bradie has carried out a wide range of work.

“In my first year here I went over to Renal at St Luke’s Hospital and then went to Leeds for two weeks to work on linear accelerators, which are most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer.

“This year I have been with an anaesthetist to find out more about how the machines he uses are used, and I’ve been into maternity.

“I’ve also spent a day in theatres and have worked on a wide range of equipment including suction pumps, a Doppler ultrasound, defibrillators, infusion pumps, syringe drivers, and nebulisers.

“I started with low risk equipment such as thermometers, and have now worked on high-risk equipment such as anaesthetic monitors.

“I’m really trying to get a clinical view on how the equipment I work with on a daily basis is used.

“I have worked with procurement to find out how medical equipment is purchased and have been to a multi-disciplinary team meeting.

“I have done quite a lot already and have received excellent training both internally and externally.”

Bradie’s academic work is also going well, so much so that she’s targeting a first-class honours degree.

“The plan is, hopefully, to get a first. My uni lecturer comes down once a year to check how I’m doing.

“Once I qualify next May I’m hoping to stay here and eventually specialise and work mainly in one clinical department.  

“My colleagues have a lot of knowledge and help me out a lot.  I really enjoy coming to work every day.”  

Bradie’s boss, Iain Threlkeld, head of clinical engineering at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, said: “Everyone in Clinical Engineering has been impressed by Bradie and how well she has settled into the department.

“She has balanced her work and study exceptionally well and will be a real asset to the department.

“I have every confidence she will graduate from university next year with a very good degree and become a well-respected member of the clinical engineering department for years to come.

“As for future apprentices, it is something we want to do. Once Bradie graduates next year we will definitely look to start someone else on the apprenticeship path.”