Produced by Guest blogger
This is a guest blog by Tina Smith, who is studying the Registered Nursing Degree Apprenticeship (RNDA), on the BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing Apprenticeship route at Bournemouth University.
I have always wanted to be a nurse since a young age and follow in my grandmother’s footsteps. I left school and took the career pathway into the care industry. I have many years of experience working in a variety of care environments including schools and residential care homes, and I have supported both children and adults in these settings. My ultimate goal was still to be a nurse, but I just couldn’t find the right way in, that suited my circumstances.
I was working as a healthcare assistant in a residential home in 2019 and I found out about the apprenticeship route into nursing at BU. I went along to the open evening at Poole Hospital in February 2020 and gathered more information, I decided that this opportunity would be best for me as I could work and get paid as well as study. I applied for a position and then COVID hit. Everything seemed to come to a halt until I was lucky enough to be selected for an interview in September 2020 which took place online and at the end of November 2020, I officially achieved a place on the RNDA course. I was delighted, to say the least!
The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship has been a great experience. In my time as an apprentice, I have gained a wealth of experience which has laid the foundations for my future career as a nurse. The hands-on practical element of my apprenticeship has equipped me with many skills which are very valuable and are the fundamentals of nursing practice. I have gained experience working within a team, communicating with colleagues, patients and families, and developing practical skills such as taking patient observations, venepuncture and cannulation.
As an apprentice I get to learn all year round and every day is a learning opportunity, whether this be on my home base, on placement or at university. I am expected to work on my home base for 30 hours a week and then study at university one day a week, the same amount of study and assignment submission is expected of an apprentice as that of a student studying the ‘traditional’ nursing route. The apprenticeship is hard work, and it takes organisation and skill to meet deadlines and maintain a good work-life balance.
My favourite part of my role is communicating with the patients. This is one of my strengths and I have built up a good rapport with many patients, some who have required lots of patience and understanding. I know that patients may be very frightened and worried, so a friendly face and some banter can alleviate this. I always say to myself, how would I feel if I was in this position and what if it was my loved one that was being cared for?
I feel that I am a good ambassador for the RNDA Programme as I am currently a PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) leader and support new apprentices by sharing my experiences and offering advice and tips that I have learnt during my apprenticeship. I am also a SUBU representative this year for my group. The RNDA has allowed me to fulfil my ambition of becoming a nurse and I feel very privileged to have gained a place on the course.