A group of student and newly-qualified nurses are at the forefront of a new campaign to attract more young people into nursing.
The campaign, launched by Health Education England, is targeted at 16 to 18-year-olds with the aim of boosting applications to nursing courses through the university clearing process this year and ahead of the UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service) deadline in January 2019.
“We want more young people leaving sixth form or college to consider a career in nursing2
As part of the drive, which will mainly run online and on social media, the body has recruited a team of “ambassadors” – new and student nurses who will talk about their experiences and give advice to those thinking about embarking on a nursing degree.
HEE said the campaign, which features relaxed images of the ambassadors wearing everyday clothes and not in uniform, was designed to showcase the many benefits of a career in nursing – not least the chance to make a real difference to other people’s lives.
It will also highlight the high graduate employment rate, with 94% of graduate nurses finding a job in nursing within six months of finishing their degree.
Other benefits flagged up in the campaign, which is also promoting allied health professional courses, include the opportunity to work anywhere in England and the variety of career paths including teaching, research and leadership.
“As a mental health nurse I get to make a real difference to people’s lives every day”
Mental health nurse Cherie Lawrence (pictured above) is among those chosen to front the recruitment drive and said she was “really proud” to be part of it.
“It’s vital that we inspire more young people who are choosing their future career paths to study these degrees and educate them on the huge range of opportunities that careers in nursing offer,” she said.
“Not only does studying nursing make you highly employable, in fact I was offered a job before I’d even finished my degree, but it’s hugely rewarding – as a mental health nurse I get to make a real difference to people’s lives every day,” she said.
Ms Lawrence, who studied at Nottingham University and now works for Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, became a mental health nurse after suffering post-natal depression as a teenager.
Her story is among those shared on a dedicated website that provides information about different roles in nursing and features a “course finder” that had details of every nursing course in the UK.
“These courses offer a route into fulfilling careers with a social purpose and excellent employment opportunities”
She explains how much she loves her work and says many of her friends are jealous, because “I have a guaranteed job for life”.
“I get to work with a variety of people and importantly, no two days are the same, I go to work each day never knowing what to expect, which keeps things really interesting,” she explains.
“I work with a range of patients on the ward, some of whom are very vulnerable and I work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, who are really supportive of each other,” she says.
“I think some people have a view that mental health nursing must be really tough and whilst there are challenging times there are also lots of lovely things that we get to do with patients as well, on a one-to-one basis, like taking them out for a walk or shopping in town,” she says.
“This helps give them some normality and experience of life outside the ward and I really enjoy this aspect to the job,” she adds.
HEE chief executive Ian Cumming said the campaign had been timed to co-incide with a crucial time in young people’s lives when they were thinking seriously about their futures and making big decisions.
“We want more young people leaving sixth form or college to consider a career in nursing and the allied health professions,” he said.
“These are highly valued and rewarding careers that we want young people to consider,” he said. “These are roles that whilst challenging, offer a chance to make a real difference to people’s lives. These degrees offer some of the best rates of employability and a guaranteed job for life.
“We are committed to delivering the workforce of the future so it is right that we do everything we can to inspire young people at this pivotal time in their lives when they’re deciding what career path they want to take,” he said.
The Office for Students (OfS) – the independent regulator for higher education in England – has worked with Health Education England on the campaign.
“Ensuring prospective students have access to information advice and guidance to inform their study choices is a priority for the OfS,” said its director of teaching excellence and student experience Yvonne Hawkins.
“We are delighted to be working with Health Education England and others to raise awareness about the nursing, midwifery and allied health courses which can lead to professional roles in the NHS and the wider health economy,” she said.
She added: “These courses offer a route into fulfilling careers with a social purpose and excellent employment opportunities.”
The campaign is being promoted via Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram as well as the Health Careers: Know About Nursing website.