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First HCAs at Essex trust pass work-based nursing degree

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Three healthcare assistants have become the first to achieve their nurse registration by completing a work-based learning (WBL) degree supported by their hospital trust in Essex.

The scheme is being run in partnership between Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Essex.

Karen Gill, Clare Kortland and Michaela Freeman balanced being students at the university while working as HCAs at the trust.

To be considered for the WBL degree, participants needed to have completed an associate practitioner foundation degree.

Once passed, students were eligible for the 20-month WBL programme to become a registered nurse.

Ms Gill, who works on the trust’s day surgery ward, said: “I’ve gained valuable experience through the WBL programme, which gave me additional knowledge, having worked within the trust for the past 11 years.

“I also had a fabulously helpful mentor and support from my ward management throughout,” she added.

Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

First HCAs at Essex trust pass work-based nursing degree

Pictured (l-r): Director of nursing Denise Townsend, Karen Gill, deputy director of nursing Cheryl Schwarz, Clare Kortland and practice development nurse Laura Gibbons

Ms Freeman, from the accident centre, said the degree had “filled in the gaps in my learning” and called on others to follow in her footsteps as a “mature student”.

Meanwhile, Ms Kortland, who works on the hospital’s Hockley Ward, paid tribute to her tutor in supporting her through the course.

She said: “The amount of support from our tutor, Iain Keenan, was amazing. He was always available to give support and advice when needed. I remember emailing him as late as 9pm and he would reply. You just cannot beat that kind of support.”

Over 20 other HCAs have started on the same journey as the three new nurses, according to the trust.

Laura Gibbons, practice development nurse, said: “These nurses worked extremely hard throughout the course and showed dedication and commitment to achieve their nursing registration.

“We have additional cohorts undertaking this course and believe this will give them the incentive and encouragement to consider this route into nursing,” she said.

Last year, the trust was twice warned that it needed to boost its nurse staffing levels by the Care Quality Commission.


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