Nursing assistant apprentices are becoming a familiar sight to patients and staff across the different sites at the Royal Free London. 

The aim is for the apprenticeship pathway to provide nurses of the future a new route into the profession and, such is the success of the scheme, a new cohort of apprentices will be starting in the autumn. 

The first batch of apprentices has been given the opportunity to learn new skills, gaining practical training on the wards and theoretical training in the classroom. They have also been required to self-study. All the training has been designed to help them on their way to choosing a nursing or midwifery career.

One of the apprentices, Alia Sharif, said: “When I first signed up for the apprenticeship I was intrigued as I felt I’d finally found an alternative way to explore the nursing sector. I wanted the experience of working on the wards with patients and gaining new skills and knowledge, to give me an idea of what nurses do on a daily basis.

“I’ve settled into my ward, which is an orthopaedic ward. My confidence has improved and I’ve learnt so much. I enjoy meeting new patients and working with new staff. Every day is a different but busy experience. I feel comfortable in asking questions and if I’m unsure how to do a task a colleague will always assist and show me how to do it correctly.”

Jade Graham Rodney, another of the apprentices, said: “It’s amazing to be working with people who all have different experiences of nursing and patients with different conditions. I’ve met so many patients in such a small amount of time all with unique stories. This apprenticeship provides me with new challenges every day.” 
Andy Brown, clinical practice educator, said: “It’s a challenging but rewarding experience mentoring someone with no care background. Shadowing experienced members of staff, setting goals and frequent catch ups to discuss progress and concerns are all key.”

Margarita Zgurova, tutor and assessor, said: “It’s been very rewarding to observe how much the apprentices have progressed in the past six months. When they started they weren’t very confident speaking to patients and now they communicate with the patients really well. They provide reassurance to patients and work with less direct supervision.”

Toks Ojo, lead nurse, who has led on training and development for the apprentices, said:  “The apprentice nursing assistants have been in the trust for six months and have completed their study days on the Care Certificate and are now focusing on the standards expected to be achieved within the clinical healthcare apprenticeship programme for the next year. Once successfully completed they will achieve a Level 2 healthcare support worker award.”

Maggie Maxfield, head of education and development for nursing and midwifery, at the Royal Free London, said: “It’s an exciting time as learners can now progress in their careers via an apprenticeship framework. I’m passionate about this programme as I feel it gives people in the local community that have minimal experience of healthcare, a chance to develop, reach their potential, and begin a career in nursing.

Going forward the apprentices, with the support of their managers, can progress to the Level 3 apprenticeship programme or the Level 5 trainee nursing associate programme, via the apprenticeship levy.

The next round of recruitment for apprentice nursing assistants to study at Level 2 is being planned and adverts will go live via NHS Jobs shortly. Local schools and colleges are also being notified. The scheme will also be advertised internally nearer the time. The proposed start date is September/October 2018.