The idea of earning while you’re learning may not be new, but four staff at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital are showing it can work in the NHS too.
Clinical co-ordinators Helen Cameron, Samira Ayssi, Kaleigh McCourt and Lauren Carey are taking their first steps towards becoming registered nurses thanks to a work-based training programme.
The quartet have already completed a degree in foundation nursing.
But they will now start work on a pre-registration nursing programme, provided through University Campus Suffolk, in the New Year, while also holding down their jobs on the wards.
The move is part of the hospital’s Grow Your Own scheme, which is designed to bring more people into the profession.
Although one in 10 nursing posts nationally remain unfilled, the traditional university route into the profession is often not practical for people with families or other responsibilities.
But the 18-month course gives them the chance to continue to work in their current roles for 22.5 hours while becoming student nurses within the hospital for the remainder.
They will also have to undergo regular training sessions at other locations in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Miss Ayssi, who previously worked in the retail sector before joining the hospital nine years ago, said: “This is a dream come true. Being a nurse is the only job I have ever wanted to do but finances prevented me from going to university. To have the option to study and progress that bit further is amazing.”
Miss Cameron, who works alongside Miss Ayssi on Stanhoe ward, joined the hospital four years ago as a Nursing Auxiliary and has progressed up the ladder.
She said: “To me it is an honour to be there for the patients and their families, sometimes at their lowest ebb.
“The support we have had to apply for the course has been amazing along with the opportunity to go for it.”
Miss McCourt started off as a Nursing Auxiliary and has worked her way up to being a Clinical Coordinator on the Oxborough ward.
She said: “I think my eight years of experience on the wards has given me a lot. We deal with a lot of vulnerable and scared people and if you can give five minutes to help ease that, it can make a difference to the patient.
“We have a lot of hard work to do but it is really exciting to be on the course and I’m thrilled to have been given this opportunity.
Miss Carey wanted to find a job she really loved so started off at the hospital four years ago with no caring experience but has moved up through the ranks.
She said: “If you can make one person smile in a day then that is enough for me. You can’t come here, if you have a stony heart.
“Having that bit of life experience behind you is a big help. By working your way up, I think it gives you a bigger picture of how a ward works and dealing with the patients.
“There is a lot to learn but I think our rotations on the different wards will be a big help.”
Director of nursing Catherine Morgan said: “It is wonderful to help all four of these dedicated people to achieve their dreams of becoming a registered nurse.
“They have worked so hard, with help from the Nursing Development Team, to achieve a place on the course and I’m sure they will continue to shine.
“The hospital has local, national and international recruitment campaigns but Grow Your Own is an important initiative as we are helping existing staff or those from the wider community into a fulfilling career in nursing.”