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Wednesday, 06 June 2012

Course is a 'dream come true' for healthcare assistants in remote areas

Written by Care Appointments

The OU’s pre-registration nursing course has been described as a “dream come true” for health care assistants wanting to train as nurses in remote areas. Often faced with having to relocate or travel to train in nursing, Pat Tyrrell, lead nurse at Argyll and Bute Community Health Partnership, in Scotland, explains why the distance learning aspect the OU offers is a perfect fit.

“The Open University’s pre-reg nursing course is a dream come true for health care assistants (HCAs) in an area as remote as ours,” says Pat. “We are in Argyll and Bute, where there have always been so many talented HCAs more than capable of becoming good nurses, but could not train to do so. Before we started working with the OU – about seven years ago – they would have had to travel to another part of Scotland for their training and placements;  for many home commitments simply made that impossible.

“However, now it’s a different story. The distance learning aspect of the OU means our HCAs can learn while they are working locally and this has brought opportunities for so many people to achieve their ambition of becoming qualified nurses. Doing the OU’s pre-reg course is the only way that was possible – and of course it’s beneficial not only to the students but also for us, as we have so many more trained nurses!

“We send promotional material out around the partnership to attract students and then the students apply for a place on the course through their line managers. We take a lot of care to ensure those undertaking the course are ready to do so. It’s not just about the academic ability – they need to show us they are resilient as we do warn them it can be quite a challenge which could end up changing their lives.

“Because of the nature of the programme, our students need very supportive families. They are learning nursing skills but there is also an enormous amount of reflection and personal development. This course encourages you to challenge, to question practices and to realise that there are other ways to do things. It changes the way they think. Our students are aged from their 20s to their 40s and as you can imagine, for some people this is like opening a door to a whole new world and they can change – which obviously can put a lot of pressure on families. The students we take on need to be prepared for that change.

'People can study in their place of work which is beneficial for them and beneficial for the partnership'

“However, they get a lot of support from within the partnership, not least from nurses who have already gone through the programme and can help them as they develop.

“In the early days there was a little bit of concern in some areas as to how the programme would work, especially as people have historically had to leave the area to train. But it really has worked very successfully. People can study in their place of work which is beneficial for them and beneficial for the partnership.

“At the end of the course, we work very hard to find jobs for them all. We get qualified nurses and other staff can become programme tutors or course tutors, which helps them keep up to date. It’s a programme that develops everyone.”

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