Celebrations took place at Devon hospitals this week as some of the county’s frontline nursing staff are among the first to qualify as Nursing Associates.
Introduced alongside other roles to bridge the gap between Healthcare Assistants and Registered Nurses, the Nursing Associate role offers a new entry point into a fully registered nursing career. At the end of the two year course, staff can either continue studying to become fully qualified registered nurses by taking a shortened nursing degree of two years rather than three, or continue to work as registered Nursing Associates within Devon organisations.
As one of 11 first wave Nursing Associate pilot sites, Devon is the only Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) site selected and the pilots nationally have been funded by Health Education England (HEE).
NDHT, the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust all held individual celebration events this week while University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and Livewell Southwest teamed up for a joint event.
Each Trust allowed the opportunity for the newly qualified Nursing Associates to reflect on their roles, hear from senior nursing staff about the difference the role has made in their area and to receive their certificates and organisational badges. Towards the end of the afternoon, Nursing Associates from across the STP joined together via Skype to hear from Samantha Donohue, Senior Nurse Manager of Transformation from Health Education England.
Out of Devon’s 69 Trainee Nursing Associates who began their training in January 2017, 62 have completed the programme and are now able to apply to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. Of the trainees who have completed the course, 20 are continuing in education to become registered nurses and a further 38 will be continuing to work as registered Nursing Associates across the Devon STP footprint.
Darryn Allcorn, Chief Nurse at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT), said: “I’d like to congratulate all our Nursing Associates on this momentous occasion. They have worked really hard over the past couple of years and have proved themselves to be extremely caring and competent people, a valuable part of our workforce in northern Devon.
“During their time as Trainee Nursing Associates they have made a real difference to the lives of our patients and their loved ones, and been a great support to their colleagues. We’re looking forward to seeing how our Nursing Associates develop further, as well as our second and third groups of Trainee Nursing Associates.”
Em Wilkinson-Brice, Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Nurse at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, the Devon pilot’s lead organisation, and Chair of the Devon STP Nursing Associate Programme Board, said: “The Nursing Associate role is a really important new role which will work closely with Assistant Practitioners, Healthcare Assistants, Registered Nurses and others to provide excellent, compassionate care to our patients. I’m extremely proud of their achievements and of the difference they have already made to patients, families and staff. It has been a pleasure to chair the Devon Nursing Associate board – collaborating across Devon has undoubtedly led to the success of this pilot.”