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Future nurses learn and earn at same time

Apprentices with education leads

Aspiring nurses in Cumbria now have a new route into the profession following roll out of Nursing Degree Apprenticeships.

17 healthcare assistants from North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) are starting out in this new role which will see them gain a degree level nursing qualification.

The apprentices will be working across acute, community and mental health services to develop their skills and gain a wide range of experience.

Hannah Greenslade, healthcare assistant on Larch D ward at the Cumberland Infirmary, is one of the first to be taking on this new role. Hannah said: “After years of working in a bank I decided I needed a change and to try out care work. I tested the water with a few hours a week and absolutely loved it. I’ve been in my current role for two and a half years and nearly jumped through the ceiling when I found out about the new apprenticeships! My mum did her nurse training through a similar vocational route so I’ve been looking out for something like this for a while. I’m ready for my next challenge and can’t wait to get started.”

Two of the apprentices have recently completed their assistant practitioner training giving them the head start to complete the apprenticeship in three years instead of four. There is a growing number of ways into nursing and the trusts are keen to support staff development at every level.

Kathryn Kruger, who works in mental health services for CPFT in south Cumbria, is one of those who has completed her assistant practitioner training and also gained her health and social care degree this year. Kathryn commented: “I started in the NHS in an admin role and never saw myself doing something like this. I love working with older adults and took on a support worker role which I’ve been doing for 18 months now. The support available to train on the job is fantastic and I’m excited to start my nursing degree apprenticeship. Learning on the job is the perfect route for me.”

Gill Long, head of nursing for clinical education, added: “Each one of the apprentices has come on a unique journey to get to where they are and I’m excited about where this is going to take them. As the first cohort they are an inspiration to other learners and will lead the way for our future nursing workforce. It’s great to be able to help them develop their skills, take on more responsibility and receive the recognition they deserve by gaining a qualification at the end of it.

“We’re confident that the apprenticeships will help us to attract new recruits in the future but also help us retain staff who want to progress. This is a group of people who we already know are passionate about patient care and it’s fantastic that we can support them to grow.”

The four year apprenticeship is being delivered in partnership with the Open University. Apprentices will spend 20% of their time studying with the rest of their time in the workplace.

Barbara Cochee, education and learning manager for the Open University, said: “It’s really exciting to be working in partnership with CPFT and NCUH to deliver the new apprenticeships. We have a really flexible approach to learning which is perfect for the geographical challenges in Cumbria. The apprenticeships make higher education accessible for those who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity and gives a great new route into nursing.”

The trusts will be recruiting a second cohort of apprentices next year from their current staff and are encouraging those who are interested to prepare by ensuring they have the qualifications they need.

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