We invited Sophie Ashton, a former access to HE student on the health professionals pathway, to discuss her progression, work and what she enjoyed about her course.
Sophie left school with no GCSEs and was originally an estate agent after leaving her previous studies, saying it was a job that was beneficial for her at the time.
“I realised that it wasn’t a career path I wanted to do for my whole life; I’ve always known I wanted to help people overcome trauma. I took a step back when I had children, it really helped me step back and evaluate a plan of what I wanted to do as a career.
“I found it really tough going back into education once I’d left, but the tutors were really helpful – Leslie, Jay and Elaine were really good and guided me with any work I had, going above and beyond to answer questions about my studies.
“I was juggling three children, my seven-year-old daughter and three-year-old twins, as well as my studies. Any hour I had spare I would be writing my essays. I was so motivated to get on with my studies, I’m really passionate about what I do and I pushed through my assignments.”
The Health Professionals route equips students with the skills needed for an exciting, challenging career in the health service, being introduced to the healthcare system, and discovering the underpinning principles of care and reflective practice, whilst providing them with the skills needed to succeed in higher education.
She added: “I really liked the access to HE programme; I found it very challenging and it really pushed my abilities. I found that it helped improve my time management, how to schedule and articulate assignments, as well as getting used to referencing.
“I originally signed up as I wanted to be a paramedic, but as time went on, I was really intrigued by the psychological side of my studies. I applied and received an offer from the University of Wolverhampton to study an undergraduate degree in psychology.
“I found the first year of my degree easy because of my access programme, but the second year was hard and what I had learnt on access, to manage my assignments and studies, really came to fruition.
“As part of the course, we have our own personal therapy sessions. I think these sessions are so important – sometimes certain topics of conversations bring up an underlying issue or trauma you didn’t even realise you had and it helps you resonate with patients.”
Upon completing her course at university, Sophie is now studying a doctorate in counselling psychology, whilst also providing therapy for women who are going through rehabilitation for alcohol addiction at a rehabilitation clinic.
“I get to meet and help lots of women all over the country; we’re one of only two female-only rehabilitation centres in the whole of the UK. It means so much to me when I work and help them overcome an addiction; I find it so rewarding and fulfilling.”
When she finishes her studies, Sophie says she wants to study neuropsychology and her dream is to open her own practice, offering psychological assessments, therapy and counselling for the whole community at a reasonable price.
She wants everyone who is considering an access to HE course to know they have to “just believe in yourself, manage your time properly and ask for help. I really enjoyed my experience, as stressful as it was at times, the outcome is going to set you up for greater things.”
If you were inspired by Sophie’s story and want to find out more about the health professionals pathway of our access to HE programmes, click here.