First batch of new student nurses qualify

Newly qualified nursing graduates. Picture by Simon Veit-Wilson.
Newly qualified nursing graduates. Picture by Simon Veit-Wilson.

The first students to study on a new 18-month full-time work-based nursing degree have graduated with flying colours.

Traditionally a three-year qualification, the 18-month nursing course is aimed at people with a healthcare background.

The first of its kind in the UK, the programme leads to a BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies/Registered Nurse (Adult) degree and is a partnership between Northumbria University, Newcastle, and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The course involves a mix of classroom-based teaching, simulated clinical skills and hands-on practical experience in hospitals and the community across Northumberland and North Tyneside and, on completion, the students were guaranteed employment at Northumbria Healthcare.

The first 10 recruits – made up of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust staff – began the programme in March 2016. The opportunity, funded by the trust, was so popular that it received almost six times the number of applications than there were places, and a second course, with a further 10 recruits, began in March 2017.

Rachel Heron, from Blyth, is a staff nurse on a respiratory medicine ward at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Hospital. She previously worked in the Northumberland Sexual Health Service.

She said: “We had a lot of support particularly from the clinical educators.

“The highlight of the course for me was the placement, where I had excellent support from my mentors and I am now delighted to be putting my learning into practice.”

Following the success of the 18-month degree programme, the course is now being replicated in other areas of the country.

Professor Alison Machin, acting head of the nursing, midwifery and health department in Northumbria University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: “I’d like to congratulate all the student nurses on their graduation and wish them an exciting and rewarding career in nursing.”

The course has also been viewed positively by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.