There are many more ways into nursing than going to university as four women at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital are demonstrating.
Clinical Coordinators Helen Cameron, Samira Ayssi, Kaleigh McCourt and Lauren Carey are taking their first steps towards becoming registered nurses after achieving places on a work based course at the University Campus Suffolk.
All four have already completed their foundation nursing degree and will start work on the Honours Degree in Pre-Registration Nursing in the New Year while also holding down their jobs on the wards.
Nationally, there is a well-documented shortage of nurses in this country with one in 10 posts remaining vacant.
For many people the traditional route of going to university is not an option for people who have families or other responsibilities. But the ability to ‘earn while you learn’ is a key principle behind the Grow Your Own initiative at the King’s Lynn hospital.
This 18-month course allows the four Clinical Coordinators 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.
A career in retail had not been as fulfilling as Samira Ayssi had hoped but she is now achieving her ambition of becoming a nurse.
Miss Ayssi, who has worked at the hospital for nine years, 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. So to have the option to study and progress that bit further is amazing.”
Working alongside Miss Ayssi on Stanhoe ward is fellow student nurse and Clinical Coordinator Helen Cameron.
Miss Cameron 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 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 has congratulated the four clinical coordinators for achieving their places on the course. She 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.
Lauren Carey and Kayleigh McCourt are pictured along with their colleagues Helen Cameron and Samira Ayssi