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Unique opportunity to train as a nurse the Northumbria way

9th January 2017

People with a healthcare background seeking a new challenge in 2017 are being given the chance to train to be nurses in the North East on a unique programme.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria University, Newcastle have teamed up to give those with substantial healthcare experience and academic study in the nursing and healthcare sector the opportunity to become nurses in 18 months.

Starting in March 2017, the full-time work-based course will lead to a BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies / Registered Nurse (Adult) degree which is recognised by professional regulatory body the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Applications are now being taken, for more information and to apply visit

The intake, which is open to the general public, follows the success of the first cohort of the course in March 2016 which saw 10 trust staff who had previously worked in nursing assistant roles or similar take their first steps to becoming nurses.

In what is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, the self-funded course is a mix of classroom-based teaching simulated clinical skills and hands-on practical experience in hospitals and the community across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Given the recruitment challenges facing the whole of the NHS, the trust has invested heavily in the programme in a bid to help ease workforce pressures in the future. Successful applicants may be eligible to receive an individual trust scholarship of up to £5,000.

Candidates who successfully complete the course will have the opportunity to apply for a job with the trust, which is recognised nationally for delivering the highest standards of care and one of only a handful of trusts to be rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Alongside the public recruitment, the trust is welcoming applications from its own staff in a separate internal process to also start the course in March 2017.

Debbie Reape, interim executive director of nursing at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our 18-month nurse training programme caused quite a stir in the nursing world when it was launched in March last year and we are delighted with how our recruits are progressing, thanks to their hard work and determination and our excellent partnership with Northumbria University, Newcastle.

“While we continue to provide opportunities for your own staff with the appropriate skills and experience to take the next step up in their careers, we are pleased to be able to cast the net wider and open this unique programme to people across the region as an alternative to the traditional three-year degree.

“If you’ve always wanted to train as a nurse, have substantial experience working in a healthcare setting and a foundation degree or equivalent, this is an excellent route for you to get into nursing and train with one of the best trusts in the country.

“Like every trust in the country we’re facing real recruitment issues and are passionate about building on our strong foundations of nurse training and playing our part in developing the workforce of the future.”

Applicants will be put through a rigorous application and assessment process with strict criteria to determine their previous experience and suitability, before being shortlisted for the programme. This will include assessments by both the trust and the university, and a full-day workshop where applicants’ responses to simulated scenarios will be observed.

At the end of the course, the students will be ideally placed to work in hospitals or in the community – a key part of work led by Northumbria Healthcare to develop new models of care in Northumberland as a national vanguard site as chosen by NHS England.

Professor Pam Dawson, associate pro vice chancellor for strategic workforce planning and development in Northumbria University’s faculty of health and life sciences, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare, a leading NHS trust, and together we have trail blazed, looking at new ways of working to develop the workforce for the future.

“Northumbria University has a long-standing excellent reputation for nurse education and training and this programme uses a new approach of workplace-based coaching to support student nurses’ teaching and learning, keeping quality of patient care at the forefront.

“Thanks to our successful partnership with the trust we are delighted to be able to offer this innovative course to a wider audience. It is a really exciting opportunity for motivated people with healthcare experience already working within the sector to step up and become fully qualified nurses. After successfully completing this pioneering programme, graduates will be guaranteed an interview with the trust.”

Rachel Heron is one student who joined the 18-month programme in March 2016 and is training to be a nurse. The 22-year-old from Blyth previously worked in the Northumberland Sexual Health Service for almost six years and is very impressed with the course.

She said: “So far the course has been great. I have particularly enjoyed my placements which have been in acute elderly medicine, community nursing and emergency care. Although there are still endless opportunities within the nursing field, I feel these have given me a good grounding and prepared me for the transition to staff nurse.

“Whilst on placement the support has been excellent and I have had fantastic mentors and practice placement educators.

“The teaching support at university has also been great. I particularly like how the 10 of us on the new programme were split into three groups and joined existing groups at the university for lectures, seminars and practicals. This has given us the opportunity to interact with other students on the traditional three-year course and share experiences.

“As part of our work-based course we have been involved in coaching which has been great as it has brought the 10 of us back together and given us opportunities to catch up on what has been happening, share our experiences and work through any problems faced.”

During her previous role, Rachel assisted the sexual health nurses in giving information to young people, screening, triaging calls to the appointment line and carrying out checks such as blood pressure, height and weight. 

She studied alongside her role and in 2015, gained a 2:1 BSc (Hons) Psychology degree.

The course has also been viewed positively by the NMC following a monitoring visit where it was highly commended in the verbal feedback.

Rachel met the NMC representatives while on placement.

“This was a great opportunity where I was able to discuss the course, share my positive experiences and share ideas for future nurse training approaches,” she said.

“I’d urge anyone who has substantial experience working in healthcare and who’d like to become a nurse to apply for the course – it’s been great for me and I am looking forward to pursuing my nursing career when I finish.”

For more information visit or contact 0191 293 4257.

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