First nurses graduate from new apprenticeship programme

The graduation of the apprentice nurses

The graduation of the apprentice nurses - Credit: Archant

Torbay and South Devon’s new nurse apprenticeship programme is celebrating the successful graduation of its first group of nurses, although the students will have to wait for their much-deserved ceremony.

It has been an incredibly intense apprenticeship for the aspiring nurses, thrust into 14-week work placements on hospital wards at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, in turn, has understandably caused the delay in their graduation celebrations.

The new nursing degree apprenticeship scheme was launched in 2018 as part of a partnership between the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Plymouth, with these inaugural graduates already starting work.

The scheme provided an opportunity for existing assistant nursing practitioners to obtain a BSc degree in nursing following completion of the two-year programme to become registered nurses.

The degree course is three years but apprentices join in year two and combine studies with placements within the trust. There was a pleasing additional benefit to the programme, as the apprentices were paid for their work while training.

The graduates and work areas are Charlotte Cole (Totnes Hospital), Nina Henton-Waller (coronary care), Chrissy Rugg (Moor to Sea community nursing), Elaine Wilson (intensive care), Emma Scott (urgent treatment centre, Newton Abbot Hospital) and Dawn Parker (lower limb service).

Nina Henton-Waller, one of the newly qualified nurses, who all achieved first class honours, said: “It’s been an amazing two years and I’ll always be grateful to the Trust for giving me the chance to do something I love doing for a living.

Most Read

“During Covid-19 it was especially hard for us apprentices, although we know all patients and staff were dealing with new challenges. Not only did we have to work in the strange new world of Covid when no-one knew what was happening day to day, but we also had to complete dissertations when not on duty.”

Suzy Hubbard, apprenticeship and widening participation manager at the trust, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that our first cohort of nursing apprentices have qualified and are officially registered nurses.”