Proud pioneers: University’s first Nursing Associates celebrate the end of their studies

Date 8.02.2019

Hospital patients across the town and county are set to benefit from the skills of a new grade of healthcare staff who received their education and training at the University.

The Nursing Associates, the first ever cohort to train at University of Northampton, started their course in 2017 supported by University health partners Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust (NGH), Kettering General Hospital and St Andrews’ Healthcare. They join more than 5,000 peers across England.

Nursing associates will sit alongside existing healthcare support workers and fully-qualified registered nurses to deliver hands-on care for patients. Although it is a full role in itself, nursing associates can later use this as a route to training to become a degree-level nurse.

The achievements of those who had their clinical placement in Northampton were recognised at NGH today, with a celebration event to mark the end of their studies that was attended by representatives from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the UK regulator for nursing associates and Health Education England.

Each nursing associate received a ‘goodie’ bag that included healthcare essentials such as a pen (embossed), a water bottle so they remain hydrated during shifts and a unique badge that identifies them as NGH nursing associates.

Wearing it with pride. The official NGH Nursing Associate badge.

For some, this was their first experience of university life and a return to formal education after several decades, as Caroline Marriott explained: “This was my first time in education for a long-time, so it was very daunting to begin with, like your first day at High School!

“But I very quickly started to love going to University. As soon as I walked into a lecture room I felt part of something very special. I made lifelong friends from this fantastic opportunity.”

Dr Steve O’Brien, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Society, added: “We often use the word brilliant to describe the nursing students on any of our degree-level courses, but this word can be easily and justifiably used when we talk about our nursing associates.

“The University of Northampton was one of only 11 pilot sites in the UK training the first wave. The efforts and endeavours of these brilliant students have set the foundation for future nursing associates and I wish them all the best with their future careers.”

Sheran Oke, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Patient Services at Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust opened the celebration event: “Our Nursing Associates are real pioneers and should be proud of their achievements, ambition, drive and resilience in being our first ever group on the NMC’s register.

“I hope they stay and make Northampton General their career home and perhaps, at some point, go into full-time nursing. We are really proud of their achievements so far.”