Working in a mortuary had entered my mind numerous times over the years but only as a flight of fancy. I believed it to be a pipe dream that could never be realised because I didn’t follow a science based pathway educationally. I did get accepted onto a BSc university course, however, it was for Special Effects design. I intended to channel my interest in the aesthetics of injury and disease into a vocation creating anatomically correct prosthetic body parts for film and TV. In the end that course fell through and I studied filmmaking instead.
Whilst at school and university I acquired a lot of body piercings and had started to collect a few pieces of body modification. Halfway through my third year at university in 2009, I left to begin a body piercing apprenticeship with the body modification studio I was a regular at. They approached me about studying with them and it was there that I started to learn about basic human anatomy, infection control and COSHH. Enjoying these topics as I did made me again ponder mortuary work but instead of looking in to the possibility I assumed the qualifications and experience I had would not be suitable for it, and carried on with my apprenticeship.
A conversation with a friend who worked in the Emergency Department of QMC switched a lightbulb on for me in 2012 and I realised a move into healthcare was the next logical step. For for the first time ever a job within a mortuary seemed like a future possibility. I joined NHS jobs and scrolled through endless pages of jobs that meant delivering direct patient care to people who would likely be in discomfort or pain, something I now knew was not for me. This search was disheartening until I found a job advert for a healthcare assistant in the operating theatres. The patients would be unconscious, I would get a better understanding of anatomy in context and most of my skills from piercing would be translatable to a role in healthcare. I was successful in this application and began straight away trying to find out how to contact the mortuary to register my interest and find out more about what the role of a mortuary worker would entail.
The same friend that led to me joining the NUH knew a little about the role of an APT from having to accompany deceased patients from Resus to the mortuary. She explained to me what she understood of the role and took me to the mortuary so I could ask advice on how to be a desirable candidate should a Trainee position come up in the future. I was invited down for an insight visit and a senior APT described to me what the role involved and explained that Emergency Theatres was a good department to come from as I would endure similar traumatic sights and unpleasant smells as well having some understanding of anatomy. This visit confirmed what I already knew, that I wanted desperately to work in a mortuary. I kept in regular contact with the staff and spent an invaluable morning in the PM room observing a senior APT carry out eviscerations.
In September 2016 a Trainee APT role came up in the mortuary and for a second time I applied and was interviewed, only this time I was offered a Trainee position.
Every day is different and brings with it plenty of opportunity to learn new information and techniques. Only 9 months into the role I booked myself a place to attend the AAPT conference in Cardiff and I was so delighted to be there. It is amazing to be apart of a community of APTs and related professionals, for the knowledge, shared experiences and support, not to mention adding to the betterment of the career itself.
In being a trainee APT I have found my forever job, the career I have always wanted, that fills me with pride to do and to tell anyone who will listen, about.