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Health

Future nurses learn and earn at same time

Nursing apprentices

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

12 Assistant Practitioners from North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) are starting out on 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.

Gill Long,head of nursing for clinical education, explained: “Each one of the apprentices has come on a unique journey to get to where they are and I’m excited for where this is going to take them. As the first cohort of Assistant Practitioners to convert to Registered Nurses they are an inspiration to other learners and will lead the way for our future working nurse force. 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 while living and working in Cumbria. 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 and develop.”

Becca Walton, nursing apprentice said “I first started working for North Cumbria University Hospital NHS Trust at the Cumberland infirmary when I was 18 in the laboratory. I decided I wanted to become hands on with patients and to be more actively involved in their care.

“I then started working on the Intensive Care unit at as a healthcare assistant in 2014, I was lucky enough to be able to complete a 2 year foundation degree in health and social care to become an Assistant Practitioner with UCLAN through the hospital. I started the Assistant Practitioner course in 2016 and graduated in 2018. The training provided throughout this course allowed for me to enhance my clinical skills in practice and increased my knowledge and awareness when delivering holistic care to patients and their families, with the focus being on Rehabilitation after Critical Illness.

“I then discovered the Nursing apprenticeship with Northumbria University and the trust, which would enable me to complete my nurse training in 18 months instead of the 3 years that is usually a requirement for pre registration nurse training. I never thought that I would be able to achieve my nursing qualification as I was not in a position to leave the job I enjoyed to attend university full time. This is a fantastic opportunity which I am really grateful for, as it allows me to increase my knowledge and skills and to be able to use this learning to benefit future patients and relatives that I come into contact with.

“This course has allowed for our work areas and hospital to “grow their own” nurses, building on the experience we have previously gained through the Assistant Practitioner course and from our own work experiences. I would like to thank the Intensive Care Unit alongside the trust and Northumbria University for making what did not seem possible, possible!”

The 18 month apprenticeship is being delivered in partnership with Northumbria University. Apprentices will spend 40% of their time studying with the rest of their time in the workplace.

Dr Debbie Porteous, Acting Faculty Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor (Knowledge Exchange), said: “We are delighted to be working with North Cumbria University Hospitals to deliver the 18 month Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship. Our collaboration is the commencement of successful partnership working in undergraduate and postgraduate education of nurses and other health professionals. We are also working together on an evaluation of this Nurse Degree Apprenticeship which will be insightful for future developments. The students have commenced the programme and are enthusiastic and motivated to achieve the best they can. It is excellent to see”.

These apprentices join over 40 staff who have already commenced nursing apprenticeships with the trusts. Further recruitment of apprentices is in progress for this year from their current staff and the trusts encourage those who are interested to ensure they have the qualifications they need.

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