29th August 2017

The first cohort of Trainee Nursing Associates have successfully completed the first semester of their foundation degree in Healthcare Practice (Nursing Associate) at University Centre South Devon (UCSD).

The Nursing Associate position is a new role designed to bridge the gap between health and care support workers and graduate Registered Nurses, and offers opportunities for Healthcare Assistants to progress into nursing roles from both health and social care backgrounds.

Alongside their studies, the trainees have presented their research during the annual Research Showcase at UCSD. The showcase provides an opportunity for degree students to share their academic research through posters and presentations. Ian Sheriff, Plymouth University, Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry delivered a keynote speech to a crowded room on ‘Urban and Rural Dementias – The Challenges and Solutions’ followed by presentations from the Trainee Nursing Associates. Topics included; ‘What is a Nursing Associate?’, ‘The History of Nursing and How it has Evolved’ and ‘Gender Inequality in Health and Social Care’.

The trainees also took a trip to London where they attended Parliament to ascertain how Bills become Acts, and enjoyed a visit to The Florence Nightingale Museum. Most recently, the trainees launched a new x-ray machine at South Hams Hospital alongside Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes.

Following a thorough interview process, 39 trainees began their academic journey in January 2017. They attend UCSD on a specialist, foundation degree programme in order to complete their two-year training alongside gaining on-the-job experience while completing a combination of work-based competencies. All 39 trainees will continue with the second semester this September and following their graduation, they will be regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Working within the field of nursing and care, the Nursing Associate will work under the leadership and direction of the Registered Nurses, in all aspect of nursing process to provide high quality holistic and person-centred care to the patient and will support the patient to assess, plan and evaluate their care.

Claire Blackham, Programme Coordinator for Health Skills in Higher Education said, “We are very excited to be involved in such an innovative pilot programme and to have been given the opportunity to forge strong and cohesive links with our placement partners across the region. The trainee Nursing Associates have shown resilience to the challenges they have faced within the role and it has been a rewarding to see the trainees not only grow in confidence and apply their newly developed skills and knowledge into practice but gain a level of respect form their colleagues. The exceptional support which is offered across the Community of Practice has enabled us to retain 100% of the trainees through the first eight months of the pilot programme”

Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England, said: “We are at a pivotal point in determining what the future nursing and care workforce needs to look like for now and in the years to come. I passionately believe that this new role will help build the capacity and capability of the health and social care workforce and allow high quality care to be delivered to a diverse and ageing population.”

Professor Stephen Waite, Chief Executive at Livewell South West said, “The Nurse Associate Programme has been an exciting new opportunity to support colleagues with a keen interest in extending knowledge and opportunities within the nursing profession. It has been a real pleasure in witnessing the passion, enthusiasm and confidence shown by colleagues participating in the initial cohort and I look forward to supporting the next cohort soon to embark on this journey.”

The success of this pilot and the demand for this unique role will see a second cohort of students commence the training programme this academic year, many of whom will be specialising in mental health. The selected students will be seconded from Livewell South West and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust through the apprenticeship scheme and will once again originate from a variety of skill mix across both trusts. The courses will be delivered at new, dedicated healthcare facilities at the Torquay campus from Autumn 2017.

The FdSc Healthcare Practice offers two pathways, Nursing Associate or Assistant Practitioner. For more information email university@southdevon.ac.uk call 08000 21 31 81 alternatively, come along to the Open Evening on Wednesday 6th September, 5pm-8pm at Vantage Point, Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ.

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