Publish date: 4 June 2024

We are thrilled to announce a new career pathway at DHU Healthcare which will give our healthcare assistants unprecedented opportunities for growth and advancement.

This initiative marks a significant milestone in our commitment to fostering professional development within our organisation and ensuring the highest standards of patient care.

As part of this new pathway, our healthcare assistants can now embark on a journey to become qualified nurses through the Nursing Apprenticeship Degree offered in partnership with Derby University. This opportunity not only recognises their hard work and dedication but also provides a structured and supportive route to achieving their career aspirations.

Zoe Hunt, Clinical Practice Development Lead, told us, “I am excited to announce that Rebecca Gardner and Casey Bilson, who started off as Healthcare Assistants before qualifying as Assistant Practitioners, have both been successful in gaining places on the Nurse Apprentice course starting September 2024 via Derby University. This is a first for DHU, and we are excited to offer this career pathway to our healthcare assistants.”

How does the pathway work?

The pathway begins with a healthcare assistant contract for at least 30 hours per week. After a year of employment in this role and meeting the prerequisite qualifications, including five GCSEs with at least a C in Maths and English, candidates can be shortlisted for the Assistant Practitioner Foundation Degree at Derby University. This degree allows them to continue working while attending online classes for 7.5 hours per week, fully supported by DHU. Their healthcare assistant wage is maintained, and the apprenticeship levy funds the university place.

Upon completing the foundation degree and meeting the required competencies, participants can then progress to the Nursing Apprenticeship Degree.

Rebecca Gardner and Casey Bilson are among the first to benefit from this opportunity. Both have successfully secured their places following interviews with Derby University and will begin their two-year university nursing degree in September 2024.

Casey Bilson, QOF and Recall Manager and Assistant Practitioner
Casey Bilson, QOF and Recall
Manager and Assistant Practitioner

Casey told us: “Gaining a place on the Nursing Apprenticeship course has quite literally made my dreams come true in more ways than anybody will ever realise. I have been working in primary care for 14 years (7 years with DHU), and I feel very lucky to be recognised and put forward for not only the Assistant Practitioner Foundation Degree but now to be one of the first from DHU to be put forward and enrolled onto the Nursing Apprenticeship Degree."

"Becoming a registered nurse has always been my main goal, and I will forever be thankful for all of the senior management team, primary care management team, and the training team for making this happen and always being supportive. The next two years, I imagine, will be challenging, but hopefully, the skills and knowledge I have gained from the AP course will aid me in getting through the nursing degree and hopefully one day becoming a registered practice nurse for DHU in Primary Care.”

Rebecca Gardner, Assistant Practitioner
Rebecca Gardner, Assistant Practitioner

Rebecca Gardner, who is one of current Assistant Practitioners, said: “I started working in the urgent treatment centre as a healthcare assistant. Over the years, I have progressed to assistant practitioner, and now I have the amazing opportunity of upgrading my skills to become a nursing apprentice. I have felt fully supported in my roles as both a healthcare assistant and assistant practitioner. I have received the most amazing support and encouragement from my colleagues, managers, and the training team. The Nursing Apprentice Program will allow me to remain in employment while studying to obtain a registered nurse qualification. This scheme is long overdue in healthcare and an exciting opportunity for colleagues like myself to naturally progress to a higher level of practice without needing to leave their employment and go off to university and study elsewhere. I look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

This new career pathway underscores DHU Healthcare’s dedication to nurturing talent from within and providing our staff with the tools and opportunities they need to achieve their professional goals.

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