2020 nurse apprentices graduate

Fresh from completing a four-year registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA), Kent’s newest home-grown community nurses are taking the next step in their careers, just as the next generation of students start their apprenticeship programmes with the NHS.

The latest graduates enrolled onto the apprenticeship programme run by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) in 2020, through the trust’s Clinical Academy, set up in 2019 to recruit and train healthcare professionals.

While some recruits were new to the NHS, others were healthcare assistants already working at KCHFT and ready to take the next step. The course involved degree-level study through the Open University, with student placements in a variety of KCHFT services combined with a work-based paid role.

Lauren Shaba, 29, from Ashford, is one of the 11 graduates preparing for life as a fully-qualified nurse. She said:

“I always wanted to be a nurse but the university route was a full-time commitment which wasn’t an option for me. Having the opportunity to learn on the job has given me a unique but also enjoyable way of achieving my career goal.”

Throughout the apprenticeship, Lauren was based at West View Integrated Care Centre in Tenterden where she is delighted to be staying:

“It’s really exciting to be able to adapt to my new role within a familiar team. Now I’m at the end of my apprenticeship, I can honestly say it was the best decision for me. I’m really proud to have completed the programme.

“My advice to anyone who is at the start of the journey is, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is hard work, but at the end, not only do you have a qualification but you have the experience and skills to take into your dream job.”

Sabina Howard, 37, spent 10 years working as a healthcare assistant before taking the plunge and applying for the apprenticeship. 

She said:

“I was at a point in my career where I wanted to do more for my patients and I was looking for ways to do that. By the time I figured out I wanted to be a nurse, I had two children, a mortgage and I couldn’t just drop everything to go to university.”

It was when Sabina overheard a friend talking about the apprenticeship that she realised this was her opportunity.

“As soon as I saw the advert I had to go for it. Four years later and here I am. It feels really surreal, but it also feels like I can finally see what I’ve been working towards. The thought of being qualified and being able to deliver the patient care I’ve always wanted to deliver is really exciting. Nursing is a part of who I am and not just what I do. I love helping patients and putting smiles on faces using my knowledge and new-gained experience.”  

As one journey ends, another begins for more aspiring apprentices, with more than 220 colleagues embracing the ‘earn while you learn’ pathway at the trust.

They include nursing apprentices, data analysts, senior leaders, dental nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, business administrators and chartered managers.

Victoria Robinson-Collins, Chief People Officer at KCHFT, said:

“The success of our apprenticeship schemes is not only helping to fill vital skill gaps, but it’s also opening new possibilities for people wanting to achieve their dream careers.

“Apprenticeships offer our colleagues and local members of our community a practical and hands-on approach to learning, developing people to gain valuable work experience while acquiring essential skills in a real-world healthcare setting.

“Our ambition is to be a great place to work and this means offering rewarding careers that attract, develop and retain people from all backgrounds. Apprenticeships enable us to offer inclusive pathways into the healthcare sector, breaking down barriers to entry and promoting diversity.”

To find out what it’s like to earn while you learn, read the personal experiences of some the trust’s apprentices as they develop their careers as part of #TeamKCHFT.

By Ed

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