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Dylan Connolly

Modern Apprentice in Cellular Pathology

Royal Preston Hospital

Dylan Connolly is an 18-year-old Modern Apprentice in Cellular Pathology from Preston. After moving to a new city after his first year of A-Levels, Dylan realised he’d lost interest in the subjects he was studying. Instead of starting again at a new college, Dylan decided to make use of his passion for biology and applied for an apprenticeship.

Dylan started his apprenticeship in Cellular Pathology at the Royal Preston Hospital in 2016. He is responsible for helping to assisting at post-mortems on patients and releasing bodies to undertakers, as well as testing samples in the hospital’s laboratory. As part of his apprenticeship, Dylan is studying for a BTEC level 3 in Science at his local college and a laboratory-based NVQ 3. He is looking forward to learning as much as he can during his time at Royal Preston and hopes to apply for a place on a university course in Biomedical Science on completion of his apprenticeship.


I’m 18. I started my apprenticeship about six months ago.

Where are you from?

Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria

How did you end up doing an apprenticeship?

“I went to school in Stoke and did my first year of A-Levels. My family moved to Preston shortly after, so I was faced with the choice of starting again at a new college, or looking at my other options. I didn’t enjoy my A-Level courses and I just wasn’t passionate about them. It became harder and harder to find the motivation to do the work, so I decided that carrying on at college wasn’t the right option for me. I’ve always been interested in biology, especially Pathology. I saw an opening for an apprenticeship at the Royal Preston Hospital, applied, and was successful. I’m really passionate about my apprenticeship because I’m training in something I’m genuinely interested in.”

What did your job role involve?

“As I’m fairly new to the apprenticeship, I spend most mornings working in the hospital’s mortuary. My main tasks are assisting at post-mortems on patients and releasing bodies to undertakers. Post-mortems are carried out by pathologists to determine the cause of death. It’s a really interesting sector.

In the afternoon I usually go up to the laboratory where I work alongside qualified pathologists in the “Cut-Up” section. Here, we test tissue samples from organs like colons, uteruses and kidneys. Our tests are used to diagnose major diseases like cancer, and lower-risk conditions like cysts.”

What is your favourite thing about your apprenticeship?

“I really enjoy working in the mortuary. It’s a really privileged job - most people would never get to see a post-mortem in real-life. I’m learning something new every day.”  

Dylan, what’s next for your career progression?

“At the moment I’m at college as part of my apprenticeship, doing a BTEC in Science. I’m also getting my NVQ for working in the lab.

Once I’ve finished my apprenticeship, in about a year and a half, I’m hoping to apply for a place at university to do a degree in Biomedical Science.”

About the Pathology Apprenticeship:

As a Modern Apprentice in Cellular Pathology, the apprentice will be responsible for a range of laboratory-based pathology tasks, using a range of cutting edge scientific technologies. Apprentices will work in both a laboratory and the mortuary, with tasks such as passing instruments like scalpels to pathologists, taking tissue samples, weighing organs as they’re removed from a body, taking samples for lab analysis and recording the findings of a post-mortem exam. In the laboratory they will be responsible for assisting pathologists with testing samples for diseases and abnormalities. As well as their work within a hospital, apprentices will attend college to gain BTEC level 3 and NVQ 3 qualifications. On completion of the apprenticeship, apprentices are often qualified to apply for a university place or in the future may be able to undertake degree level training via the apprenticeship route.

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