Seven trailblazing colleagues are taking the next steps in their careers as Registered Nursing Associates.
They are the first graduates from Colten Care to complete a nationally recognised foundation degree for carers keen to progress into professional nursing.
The group have spent two years combining full-time work and placements, with lectures and tutorials one day a week from our education partner Solent University.
Their achievements are all the more impressive given the impact of the pandemic on scope for face-to-face practice and tuition.
Among the grades, there was a Distinction for Vicky Acott at Bourne View in Poole. She was one of only three trainees from the 70-strong year group to achieve more than 70% in her assessments.
“It’s been full-on and an amazing opportunity for all of us,” said Vicky. “You have to balance work, study and home life, but we’ve had a big support network and lots of resources. We’re privileged that Colten Care has funded us to do this. It’s all about gaining more skills to do nursing.”
Three colleagues gained Merit awards, reflecting grades of 60% or above. They are Ligia Dragoi at Avon Cliff in Bournemouth, Kim Gritt at Outstanding-rated Kingfishers in New Milton, and Michael Von Bruggenberg Rothschild at Castle View in Poundbury.
Also blazing the trail were graduates Sophie Barratt at Abbey View in Sherborne, Verena Thomas at Wellington Grange in Chichester and Lauren Sumner at St Catherines View in Winchester.
Most of the group hope to take their new qualifications further and follow an 18-month course to become Registered General Nurses.
Ligia said: “My next aim is to be a fully qualified registered nurse. That’s what I want to achieve. It will help my growth and progression and increase what I can contribute to Colten Care.”
Asked how she had found the Nursing Associate course, Ligia added: “It’s important to have a good working relationship with the nurses around you. Their experience and day-to-day guidance takes you a long way in understanding what you have to learn on the course.
“My nursing colleagues at Avon Cliff, and regular contact with Clinical Manager Lee Houston, gave me confidence. There were challenging times juggling everything but I was able to stay focused and determined and I worked hard. I’m very proud of what I achieved.”
Also reflecting on the past two years, Lauren said: “It was harder than I expected to work full time and study. My advice to anyone thinking of doing it is to make sure you are fully ready, but I’m so glad I did it. It really was worth the effort.
“You discover a lot about yourself. I found that my way of learning was the opposite to what I thought before. I am naturally quite an organised person, doing things in advance, but when it came to essay writing I actually worked better when I was up against it, really under pressure. It was a case of ‘Last Minute Lauren’, but that was good for me because it meant I had no time for overthinking.
“Everyone is different but you find your own way through. The pandemic did make it harder and some students on the course dropped out, but I had fantastic support and reassurance, especially from our Home Manager Vanda Baker and Clinical Lead Hayley Geddes. They were both brilliant.”
Following in the footsteps of our trailblazers, our second cohort of trainees are now in their second year, while a third cohort have just begun their studies.
Jan Parker, Solent University’s Head of Nursing and Social Care, said the collaboration with Colten Care was about “supporting the nursing workforce by providing a real-world curriculum and working with a clear vision of health and care needs in our society today. Colten Care have invested in their staff by supporting them on the Nursing Associate programme. Together we are dedicated to continuing to deliver excellent teaching and practice experiences to promote expertise of knowledge and care, supporting the individuals and communities we serve.”