Livewell Southwest celebrates today (20 November) as the third cohort of Trainee Nursing Associates qualifies.
This follows two years of intense learning, a combination of work-based competencies, hands-on experience and at least one study day a week. At the end of the course, trainees are awarded permanent Nursing Associate positions at Livewell Southwest and are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Livewell Southwest is the provider of integrated physical and NHS mental health services and adult social care in Plymouth, and parts of South Hams and West Devon.
Dawn Slater, Director of People and Professionalism and Chief Nurse, at Livewell, said: “Congratulations to our 14 Trainee Nursing Associates graduating from this year’s programme.
“To graduate is an incredible achievement, notwithstanding the challenges that COVID has presented. You’ve been flexible and responsible, adapting at pace to the way in which you study. It’s a testament to your professionalism, commitment and compassion, I’m very proud of you all, and I welcome you to our growing workforce of fantastic Nursing Associates.”
Nursing Associates are part of the frontline clinical workforce and help to bridge the gap between Healthcare Assistants and Registered Nurses. Livewell was one of the pilot sites for the National Nursing Association Pilot, which offers a new and exciting entry-point into a fully registered nursing career.
Those who complete the two-year training can take a shortened nursing degree and go on to become Registered Nurses while some may prefer to continue in their Nursing Associate role, being ambassadors for future Nursing Associates. Diana Allen-Gdanitz is one of the newly qualified Nursing Associates. She has worked at Livewell for more than 10 years as a (was she a HCA) and was encouraged by her colleagues to apply for the programme.
She said: “Applying for and getting offered a place on the Trainee Nurse Associate Programme initially terrified me. What had I done and why? I think really I already knew the answers to these questions.
“I’d been working in my current team for over ten years. I loved my job and was compassionate about what I did and how I did it. I was confident and competent in my role and was ready to move on in my career and make more of a difference to the people I support and care for. I was encouraged by my manager to apply for the Trainee Nursing Associate Programme and had the full backing of my team. I was ready for the challenge.
“Two years later and after a lot of hard work, attending university, submitting academic assignments, completing clinical placements in a variety of settings, and meeting lots of new and interesting people, who were all so supportive. I can honestly say it’s all been worthwhile and extremely rewarding.
“I’ve now successfully completed the training and am staggered by the change in myself. I’ve developed so many new skills and a wealth of new knowledge.
“It would make me so proud if I could encourage others to take up the challenge to becoming a Nursing Associate and open up many more opportunities for them in their healthcare career.”
Afton Wilson is another of the graduates. She added: “I’ve learnt so much and have really enjoyed my experience.
“Putting my new knowledge and skills to practice is exciting, helping people to the best of my ability, providing safe and effective person centred care. This has made me want to follow my dreams and continue on to the Nursing Degree.”
Sue Dickson, Nursing Associate, said: “The programme has opened up so many opportunities for me within Livewell Southwest. I’ve had the pleasure to work with different practitioners on all of my placements.
“The Trainee Nursing Associate programme is hard work, but we’ve been well supported by Livewell Southwest.
“Attending Plymouth University was an exciting experience and I absolutely loved learning new skills and developing my knowledge in all aspects of physical and mental health. I would encourage anyone considering applying for the course, it’s the best experience I’ve had and I feel very fortunate to have been accepted on the course.”