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Nursing Associates get healthy recognition at virtual celebration

23/03/2021

Apprentices at the University of Wolverhampton studying for Nursing Associate Foundation Degree Apprenticeships have attended a virtual celebration in recognition of their learning achievements during the challenges of the pandemic. 

61 Nursing Associates have passed the two-year Apprenticeship and will attend graduation ceremonies later this year when lockdown restrictions are lifted. The ‘Virtual Celebration’, which was held on Zoom, was attended by Apprentices and their employers as well as staff from the Institute of Health. 

The Higher Apprenticeship bridges the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses to deliver hands-on, person-centred care. The successful Apprentices are now members of the nursing “family” who, as part of their Apprenticeship, can gain a Nursing Associate Foundation Degree and are eligible to apply to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. 

The role was introduced to help build the capacity of the nursing workforce and the delivery of high-quality care, while supporting registered nurses and wider multidisciplinary teams to focus on more complex clinical duties. 

The University has over 200 Nursing Associate Apprentices working on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic in a variety of healthcare roles for NHS Trusts and Care Homes across the region and further afield. 

Nicky WestwoodDirector of Apprenticeships at the University, said: “Now, more than ever, we have seen the importance of upskilling keyworkers who are providing support for nursing teams as they continue to deal with the pandemic across our local communities. 

“Three years after the new qualification was introduced, two Apprenticeship cohorts have successfully reached their end point assessment and will graduate later this year, an amazing achievement for all those individuals who have been inspired to take the opportunity to further their careers in the healthcare sectors. 

Suzanne Smith, Apprenticeships Manager at Cygnet Health Care who had 31 Apprentices studying at the University, said: "We are so proud to see our Nursing Associates graduate and it’s wonderful to celebrate their achievements today with them. 

The past year has been unlike any other and nurses have rightly been praised, appreciated and celebrated for their unwavering commitment to caring. The dedication and professionalism our graduates have shown is nothing short of remarkable and I wish them every success as they take their next steps into their nursing career. Thank you for the support and guidance of the team at the University of Wolverhampton who have enabled our Apprentices on their career journeys. 

"Apprenticeships really do unlock opportunities and I am truly proud to see how Cygnet values its staff to help them reach their true potential." 

Chris Longshaw, Nursing Associate graduate at Cygnet, said: “Throughout the programme, I felt supported every step of the way – through my mentor, my nursing colleagues, and the manager. They always pushed me to be the best that I could be. 

“There is not a thing that I would have changed about my Apprenticeship journey. Starting out as a Support Worker, the programme has developed my practical skills and has given me a greater understanding of inpatient care. Having a regular place of work to build my knowledge and skills was invaluable.” 

Phrechie EstoyaPractice Placement Facilitator for Nursing Associate Apprenticeships, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “We are so proud of our Apprentices and their achievements, especially this past year which hasn’t been a smooth journey.  Through loss and setbacks, the Apprentices have stayed afloat and they can cherish this day as the start of a new horizon.  All of these students are truly patient advocates.” 

Kiera Matthews is the first member of her family to graduate and works in Orthopaedics at New Cross Hospital, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, who funded her studies through the Apprenticeship Levy. She said: “I’ve had lots of support from the University and my employer.  It hasn’t been an easy road to the finish-line but I always wanted to do better and I enjoy learning. I am extremely proud to say that I now have a degree with distinction and my NMC PIN. 

“I’ve made lots of friends, the module leads and tutors go out of their way to support you.  I’m looking forward to continuing to develop new skills in my new role as Nursing Associate and the wide-ranging responsibilities that go with that.” 

Employers interested in finding out more about the benefits of Degree or Higher Apprenticeships should email apprenticeships@wlv.ac.uk, call 0800 953 3222 or check out the website. 

Please note that the image of the Nursing Associates from Cygnet was taken before the pandemic when social distancing measures were introduced.

ENDS 

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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