Peggy Murrell is a trainee nurse associate and is currently undergoing a 2-year foundation degree at Brighton University.
Below is a transcript of the speech she gave at the T levels ambassador network for T Levels at the House of Commons sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses and the Department of Education.
“The Nurse Associate role was formed to bridge the gap between health care assistants and nurses so that the nurses can support the care of our more needy patients.
The foundation degree is an apprenticeship, so we have one day at university each week and the rest of our working week is at our jobs taking learning opportunities when available. At the university we have apprentices from all sorts of different areas such as mental health, outpatients, a burns unit and the emergency floor.
I’m 45 and there are a variety of people undertaking the apprenticeship from their early 20’s to their late 50’s, so it shows that apprenticeships are available not just for youngsters but for any age group.
The nurse associate course itself covers a variety of subjects such as study skills, communication, maths, clinical skills, anatomy and physiology, law and ethics and evidence-based practice and we have lectures in all of those areas. As well as attending the lectures we have e-learning, exams, presentations and essays so as you can see the apprenticeship course is very robust.
We also have 4 placements over the 2 years lasting for about 6 weeks each and so far I’ve been on a couple, one on the emergency floor and I’ve had my mental health placement. We all have to go on a mental health placement as it has been identified that there is a great need for this in this day and age and that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. There has also been more awareness about mental health conditions and the magnitude of people suffering from them.
My mental health placement was with a lead practitioner and we went to contact centres for one to one consultations plus group sessions that included art therapy. It was amazing to see what support is out there. I work for Western Sussex Hospital Trust in the Day Surgery Department and Ophthalmology Department and through undertaking this apprenticeship I am being trained up as a scrub nurse for cataracts surgery and minor surgical day cases.
When I am qualified, I will go on the Nursing and Midwifery Council register where I will have a pin and accountability as a registered professional. It is only through doing this apprenticeship that I have been able to realise my potential plus being able to work whilst learning and not get into debt.
My trust, colleagues and manages have been amazingly supportive and I absolutely love my job and the new role that the apprenticeship brings.”