South Shields health worker Emma is on fast-track to becoming a nurse

Emma Hay has been accepted onto a pioneering 18-month work-based nursing degree course.
Emma Hay has been accepted onto a pioneering 18-month work-based nursing degree course.
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A would-be nurse from South Shields has won a place on a pioneering degree course.

Emma Hay was working as a healthcare assistant at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle before applying for the course in order to achieve her ambition of becoming a fully-fledged nurse.

Student nurses with Dr Alison Stevens, associate professor in nursing, midwifery and health at Northumbria University, and Debbie Reape, interim executive director of nursing at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Student nurses with Dr Alison Stevens, associate professor in nursing, midwifery and health at Northumbria University, and Debbie Reape, interim executive director of nursing at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The 18-month work-based nursing degree, run by Northumbria University in Newcastle and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, was the first of its kind when launched in March 2016.

A nursing degree is traditionally a three-year qualification, but this course is aimed at people who already come from a healthcare background, and is condensed into half that time.

The 10 student nurses on the initial intake are due to graduate this autumn, and are guaranteed an interview with the trust once they graduate.

Emma is part of a 10-strong second intake, nine of whom were already working in healthcare-related roles with the trust.

Their training includes a mix of classroom-based teaching, simulated clinical skills and hands-on practical experience in hospitals and the community.

Emma, 24, of West Park, said: “The fact the course was 18 months really appealed to me, as I was keen to qualify as soon as possible.

“I was really excited to start the course, and my family and friends are incredibly proud of me.

"Having been a healthcare assistant has helped significantly, and the support you get from the university and the trust is fantastic. I just can’t wait to start my placements.”

As of 2017, student nurses no longer receive a bursary from the Government, but are expected to fund it themselves, as is the case for all other courses.

But Northumbria Healthcare, which runs hospitals and community services in Northumberland and North Tyneside, has provided funding for the students to do the degree.

The successful 10 had to undergo rigorous assessments by both the trust and the university before being accepted.

Professor Pam Dawson, associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for strategic workforce planning and development at Northumbria University, said: “Due to success of the first course we are delighted to extend the programme to a further group of nursing students.

“The course with Northumbria Healthcare is a real trailblazer, with other NHS trusts and higher education institutions now following in our footsteps."

Debbie Reape, interim executive director of nursing at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Our 18-month nurse training programme caused quite a stir in the nursing world when it was launched in March last year.

“Like every trust in the country we continue to face recruitment challenges. This latest intake of student nurses shows our continued support to nurse education and it is flattering to know that so many are now following our lead.”