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MDX Nursing students meet MP Theresa Villiers as part of National Apprenticeship week

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers learns first-hand the value of MDX nursing apprenticeships

Four MDX BSc Nursing Apprentices and around 30 year 2 students from the Nursing Associate Apprenticeship programme met MP for Chipping Barnet Theresa Villiers during National Apprenticeship Week. In a session in the Boardroom introduced by Director of Programmes Marion Taylor, with Senior Lecturer Carmel Fitzsimons also attending, the apprentices talked about their motivations to choose this approach to study.

Nursing Associate apprentice Jamil Moscatiello was one of a number of students who said the apprenticeship made career progression much more possible for those with families. With other courses and routes, "it would be a lot more difficult to be able to work," he said.

"I wouldn’t have become a nurse if this opportunity wasn’t there, because I can't afford it – I’m a single mum," said Registered Nurse Apprentice Marsha Hynes. Marsha's course mate Daisy Pipkin added that most Trainee Nursing Associates "have worked for the NHS for years and years as healthcare assistants. This course is the only way we could develop ourselves.

"Once you start working and you’ve got bills to pay, rent or a mortgage there’s no way you can go back into education for three years," she said. "We are really grateful to the uni and our workplaces for allowing us to do this".

Between them, the Nursing Associate Apprentices work at three NHS Trusts, two mental health trusts and a GP's surgery within North Central London, while the Registered Nurse Apprentices are all at Barnet Hospital, part of the Royal Free Hospital.

Trainee Nursing Associate Linda Ameyaa said, "The course is very effective and challenging, because the university has a proper plan in place to support students".

"Coming into this programme has enlightened us, given us more knowledge about the evidence that is backing the skill we’re using. So it helps us to work effectively to deliver proper care for our patients," she told Theresa Villers.

Trainee Nursing Associate Nicoleta Ghinea said that after doing mental health, surgical and endoscopy placements, "at the end of my degree I can go forward to work in all those places, because I [have] the basic knowledge to develop further. Our knowledge is more expansive than just our wards".

Registered Nurse Apprentice Wayne Brown, who had supported some of the Trainee Nursing Associates in the room, described the transition process from healthcare assistant to Trainee Nursing Associate to RNA apprentice ; some colleagues initially hadn't understood what nursing associates do, he said, but then "their eyes opened - everyone starts to realise we can contribute". Marion confirmed the Nursing Associate role is still relatively new in England, but the students and our Registered Nursing Associates are fantastic advocates for the role, which is contributing hugely to health and social care services in North Central London.

Daisy Pipkin said an advantage of going through the different apprenticeship stages was "we have so much more experience" than some taking a conventional degree route into nursing.

Marsha Hynes said the apprenticeship helped in terms of developing teamwork - "a wonderful sense of our teammates, why they work a certain way".

"Middlesex has got this phenomenally great reputation for apprenticeships and skills," Theresa Villiers said.

"I am really enthusiastic about apprenticeships. They are brilliant in terms of the competitiveness of our economy because they make us more skilled. But also, I see them as a big engine of social mobility, because they are a way to ensure people can get on in life to get the good jobs that they want, and realise their ambitions and their dreams".

She said she hopes to see NHS Trusts throughout the country support entrance to nursing through the apprenticeship route.

"Thank you for the dedicated work you do within the NHS - we must all value our NHS services because they are so crucial," she told the students.

Marion Taylor said that she and her colleagues were thrilled to be able to keep the apprenticeship cohorts going through the challenges of the pandemic – with one cohort starting a day before lockdown was imposed.

There are over 2000 apprentices studying at MDX, and over 10% of MDX students attached to Hendon campus are apprentices.

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