University to run nursing degree course with community focus

University College Birmingham said its “distinctive” new adult nursing degree apprenticeship, which will have its first intake in 2020, could provide the answer to the rising NHS vacancies in the city.

“Birmingham is crying out for more highly-skilled nurses in community roles”

Kathryn Riley

NHS figures recently revealed there were 268 full-time equivalent nursing and midwifery positions advertised in Birmingham in March 2019, up from 223 in March last year – an increase of 20%.

Kathryn Riley, senior curriculum lead for nursing and health, said the new four-year Adult Nursing Degree Apprenticeship BSc (Hons) could help because of its focus on community placements.

She said: “Birmingham is crying out for more highly-skilled nurses in community roles, ones who are educated to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Future Nurse, Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses gold standard.

“One of the problems is that most trainee nurses on traditional degree programmes tend to complete more placements in hospitals and automatically go for jobs in clinical settings in Acute Hospitals NHS Trusts on graduation,” she said.

“They don’t always realise the breadth of progression routes open to them,” said Ms Riley, a registered general nurse who worked at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for 26 years as an acute nurse and senior educator.

“Apprentices could be out visiting patients in their own homes”

Kathryn Riley

She said: “Our new adult nursing degree apprenticeship supports employers to develop their own healthcare support workers and nursing associates towards registration with the NMC and is distinctive in that it includes placements in a variety of community settings.

“These include nursing and care homes, GP surgeries, hospices, specialist units and schools. Apprentices could be out visiting patients in their own homes,” noted Ms Riley.

She added: “Our placement partners include Marie Curie Hospice and Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, as well as private providers such as Spire Healthcare and acute settings including the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.”

The vocational course, which sits alongside a new three-year Adult Nursing BSc (Hons) degree, will see apprentices spend three days a week with their employer and one day a week at the university.

This sits alongside placements within both clinical and community settings mapped around work and academic studies, said the university.

University College Birmingham

Kathryn Riley

Kathryn Riley

It also said its Diploma Level 5 Assistant Practitioners in Healthcare Apprenticeship students would have the opportunity to “top up” to the new degree apprenticeship.

The university added that employers were now being invited to attend an event this month to learn more about the degree apprenticeship and how it could benefit them.

In addition, all of the university’s nursing students will have use of a purpose-built Health Hub at its new Moss House building, which opens in October and is part of a £100m investment into facilities.

It said the learning environment would “closely replicate” real-life primary and secondary care settings, incorporating a six-bed hospital ward with simulation manikins and a clinical skills teaching room.