Meet one of our Apprentices
7th to 13th February is National Apprenticeship Week.
We chatted to Katie Wilmshurst, one of our Registered Nurse Degree Apprentices. Katie tells us more about her journey, how apprenticeships have helped her progress to the level she’s at now and the benefits of a degree apprenticeship over traditional routes.
“I have been fortunate to progress in my career through two consecutive apprenticeships and I’m currently finishing the first year of my Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship (RNDA) programme at the University of Brighton. I was initially supported by my previous employer to complete a two-year Assistant Practitioner foundation degree, which allowed me to work as a Band 4 Assistant Practitioner. After moving to the NHS in 2018 I was successful in applying for the RNDA course with the University of Brighton, where I began the course in February 2021.
“The apprenticeship route has meant I have financial security throughout my studies. I was also able to apply for the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) which allowed me to reduce the length of the course from three to two years, in recognition of my earlier apprenticeship and previous experience in healthcare.
“The structure of the RNDA programme means that we spend most of our time at university or on placement, which allows us to have the best of both worlds. We can fully immerse ourselves in the student experience and are able to commit to the time needed to complete our academic work. It also allows us to represent the student voice, and this year I am a member of the Sussex Health Education England Student Council.
“Despite spending most of our time at university, we are still in contact with our workplace and spend a set amount of time per year working back within our teams. We have regular reviews with the university and our supervisors/managers to ensure that everyone stays up to date and there is communication between the university and our Trust. Unlike nursing students following the traditional route into this profession, we have support from not only the university and our personal tutors but also from our managers, supervisors, and colleagues which is really valuable. Since returning to my team this year I already feel an improvement in my knowledge, skills, and confidence and am excited to continue this over the next year and when I qualify.
“I think the apprenticeship route into nursing is needed now more than ever as the current need for nurses and health care professionals grows. There is already a huge workforce of health care assistants within the NHS, who are highly skilled and keen to progress to higher grades within the organisation, but the traditional route into nursing is not suitable due to financial and family/care commitments. This means that workplaces and ultimately the healthcare service are missing out on a wealth of experience and knowledge. Often apprentices have many years of experience in health care and have a huge amount to contribute.
“My advice to managers would be to invest in your employees to give them goals to aspire to and to any potential apprentices considering this route, to discuss it with their managers and practice development team and have the confidence to apply. Studying on the RNDA programme is challenging but it is also very rewarding, and I feel proud to be able to progress and develop within my career via the apprenticeship route.”
Find out more about our Assistant Practitioner and Registered nurse programmes on the University of Brighton website: