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National Apprenticeship Week: ‘It was my route into nursing – no boat required’

A photograph of Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship student Kerry Black

Kerry Black, 30, is one of the first Nursing Associates to qualify through a partnership between The Open University and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust.

In this article, Kerry explains how an apprenticeship has allowed her to pursue a career in the NHS without having to leave her home on the island.

Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship

“I started off at the GP surgery 10 years ago as a receptionist and progressed to a healthcare assistant,” reflects Kerry. “I felt I got to the top of the progression ladder and that the next logical step would be to do my nurse associate training with the OU.”

Choosing to complete a Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship locally meant that Kerry could fit study around her day job. It also meant that she could stay close to home didn’t have to travel to the mainland by boat.

“Having the training at the local hospital on the island was much easier because that stretch of water – the Solent – costs an awful lot to get across,” she says. “[The alternative would be either moving to the mainland or finishing a 12-hour hospital shift and getting on a boat to come home.]

“[The OU apprenticeship meant] I was able to learn and earn at the same time which was really handy with having bills to pay. It worked out really well doing it this route.”

COVID wards and work placements

Kerry started the apprenticeship programme one month before the coronavirus pandemic and it wasn’t long before she found herself caring for patients on a COVID-19 ward. She also played her part in history by helping to deliver the Island’s vaccination scheme.

Throughout the 2 years of study, Kerry had the opportunity to experience different placements across the NHS Trust.

“I worked on the COVID ward and then I’ve had placements on coronary care unit theatres, mental health and learning disability teams. So, there’s a really wide variety of placements you can secure on the island” she explains.

After completing the last placement on her degree, Kerry was thrilled to be offered a role in the community rapid response team where she hopes to progress her career and help support people in their moment of need. 

She said: “I thoroughly enjoy my job. I like helping people, particularly within my role in the community rapid response team. You see people in crisis and once you’ve put your interventions you feel you’ve done a good job because they’re safe, they’re comfortable and happy within their own home.”

Following in her mother’s footsteps

Not only did Kerry have the support of her tutors and colleagues, she also shared the experience with her mum, who qualified with The Open University in the same year.

“My mum has completed her full Registered Nurse training with The Open University,” explains Kerry. “She started a year before I started my degree. So it worked out very well we could discuss our progress and point me in the right direction.

“Qualifying within six months of each other has been very exciting.”

Kerry is one of 22 nurses to qualify through the apprenticeship programme, which aims to upskill and grow its nursing workforce. Learn more about OU apprenticeships (including the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship) and hear more from Kerry below.

This article first appeared on OU News. Click here to see the original news article.

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