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My University Experience - Second Year Student: Colin O’Connor

Released on - 24/03/2021

My University Experience - Second Year Student: Colin O’Connor

I’m Colin O’Connor. I’m in my second year of an Operating Department Practice degree apprenticeship. I’m studying online through Derby university and my placement is at Spire Healthcare in Hull. I’m also an AfPP member.

Last year I had a break in my studies due to a lack of exposure to cases, especially at the beginning of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the break in studies means that I’ve had a delay of one semester and that this time will be added on at the end of the three years. 

The pandemic hasn’t changed the way I learn because my course is online anyway. I’m fortunate because I have a good network. I communicate regularly with the other students on my course and we do everything we can to support each other. For me, this is one of the positive things about learning online – we are able to keep in touch easily and communicate with each other, no matter where we are or what’s going on.

I have continued to learn as best I can with limited exposure. We’ve had a number of cases at our hospital which we wouldn’t normally have received which has helped increase my knowledge. For example, we have had some vascular cases which we would not normally have done as we are a private hospital. Having the opportunity to work in areas and experience things I wouldn’t normally be exposed to has really kept me motivated throughout the pandemic.

At the start of the pandemic I was given extra training on bedside care in case I was needed on the wards. As it turned out, I wasn’t and I have worked in theatre throughout the whole pandemic. However, I was exposed to a lot of different and unusual cases which we would not normally have done in the private sector. We have had a number of Covid patents at the hospital and we received specialised training in PPE equipment. We also had point of care training.

To other students reading this, my advice would be to remember that although things may be difficult at times, time passes quickly and things which seem difficult to handle don’t last forever. Nothing is permanent in healthcare!

For students just starting a course or going in to placement for the first time, just throw yourself into it! Do it because you love the work! Don’t be complacent and take every opportunity to learn - the time will soon pass. Finally, and most importantly, base everything on respect. Respect for the opportunity, respect for the role and respect for the people teaching you.

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