From education to employment

New pathways at Plymouth to train more nurses of the future

The University of Plymouth has introduced two higher and degree apprenticeships to help boost nurse numbers in the NHS.

Both the Nursing Associate and Registered Nursing apprenticeship programmes are designed to help people in existing health care roles train on the job and obtain a work-based degree.

Figures released by the NHS in 2017 revealed that over 85% of nursing vacancies remained unfilled across the South West. Many nurses across acute and community nursing are retiring – and the outlook suggests that a further third of practice nurses are set to retire by 2023.

In short, these new initiatives allow the NHS to retain talent and expand skillsets to help meet the shortfall.

As one of only a few organisations nationally running the degree apprenticeships in nursing, the University is offering the programmes on top of its existing BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing, and welcomes its first students this month. The development of these programmes has been supported by projects funded by the European Social Fund.

Caroline Jamison, Apprenticeship Programme Lead in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Plymouth, said:

“It’s no secret that the NHS needs more nurses, with one third of practice nurses – those based in GP surgeries – set to retire within five years. There is no quick fix for the issue, but we are really pleased to be providing a structured career pathway here at Plymouth so that the NHS can retain existing talent and skills, while professionals within the organisation can progress their careers.”

Nursing Associate is a new role created by Health Education England to address a skills gap between health and care assistants and registered nurses. Providing care and support for patients and service users, it is intended that the role will enable registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical care needs.

The BSc (Hons) Registered Nursing programme is a three-year apprenticeship and is designed for individuals both new to and experienced in health care. The apprenticeship can be fast tracked; with Nursing Associates, for example, being able to complete their studies for BSc (Hons) Registered Nursing in two years.

In addition, the University is offering a new masters level qualification, the Advanced Clinical Practitioner degree apprenticeship. This degree apprenticeship is designed for Registered Healthcare professionals from a variety of clinical settings who wish to develop their research and leadership skills and clinical expertise.

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