Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh trainee nurse gains national recognition for her work during the pandemic
Tamara Kamal’s heroic service at the city’s busiest hospital enabled the 23-year-old to win an award at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards on Thursday evening.
Ms Kamal was ‘gobsmacked’ when she received the Modern Apprentice of the Year, which was delivered by Skills Development Scotland and sponsored by Young Person's Guarantee.
The Edinburgh-based NHS worker credits her apprenticeships training with giving her skills to get through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “I’m absolutely gobsmacked to have won the award and I’m honoured.
“Working on the very frontline of the pandemic has been nothing short of frightening.
“You're faced with loss of life almost every day and it has a serious impact on your mental health.
“Thankfully my training has helped me during these difficult times and I’ve had the support of my team.
“They’ve always pushed me in the right direction throughout my apprenticeship – I owe it all to them.”
The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards recognised the resilience and hard work of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices.
Ms Kamal admits she still has to pinch herself sometimes because she is so elated to be progressing towards becoming a fully-qualified nurse.
She said: “I was amazed because I didn’t ever think I would get the opportunity to work for the NHS and just to be a small part of such a huge organisation is incredible. I’m ecstatic that I’ve done my apprenticeship with the NHS.
“I didn’t even consider apprenticeships in school. I thought the only options available to me would be to go to University or College, the thought of starting an apprenticeship never even came into play.
“My apprenticeship started in September 2018 and the end game was always to become a nurse – it was just a case of trying to find the right pathway and thankfully the apprenticeship has enabled me to get there in the end.
“Now I’m currently studying for an HNC in Nursing and I smile every time I think about the journey I’ve been on. Thanks to my apprenticeship, I’m now doing nursing and it still doesn’t seem real.”
Skills Minister, Jamie Hepburn MSP spoke at the ceremony, highlighting the vital part apprenticeships play within the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee, which aims within 2 years to give all young people, aged 16-24 in Scotland, the chance to succeed through the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, education, training or volunteering.
The Minister said: “The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards is an opportunity to celebrate the role apprenticeships play in developing young people’s skills and strengthening Scotland’s workforce. It also allows us to recognise the achievements of our finalists who are great examples of why apprenticeships are so important.”
Following her success, Ms Kamal is keen to encourage more young people to explore the possibility of starting an apprenticeship.
She said: “I would say it was incredibly important for everyone to be made more aware of the opportunities presented by apprenticeships, no matter their ethnicity or background.
“Apprenticeships provide another path to careers that most people would never have thought of pursuing; I certainly didn't and now I’m on course to become a nurse.”