Virgin Care provides cost-free path to nursing careers

Aspiring nurses in Kent are being offered a new way to ‘earn as they learn’ with an innovative Nursing Degree Apprenticeship providing a new route to becoming a Registered Nurse.

Virgin Care, the local provider of NHS community services in North Kent, is one of the first employers in the country to be able to offer the new scheme via its training-arm The Learning Enterprise.

By the end of the scheme successful candidates will gain a BSc Honours Degree in Nursing and will be able to register as a Nurse with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

Rachel Setter, Head of Apprenticeships with The Learning Enterprise, said: “We are very passionate about developing the nursing workforce of the future and so we are excited to be able to offer this flexible programme with Virgin Care so people can attain their goal of becoming a Registered Nurse while remaining in salaried employment.”

The pilot scheme is taking place in Kent and there are three apprenticeships with Virgin Care’s North Kent Adult Community Services to start in September.  Funding for the training comes from the Government’s apprenticeship levy.

The four-year scheme will involve studying at the University of Greenwich.  A typical week will involve two days undertaking duties within the community services assisting the senior or team sister to care for patients and their families. Every apprentice will be supported by a workplace facilitator who will mentor them throughout their journey.

One day a week will consist of protected study time with two days a week on placement within Virgin Care or another organisation to gain experience in specialist areas such as paediatrics, mental health or caring for patients with complex and life limiting conditions.

Samantha Doggett, Director of People Operations at Virgin Care, said: “We are incredibly proud to be one of the first healthcare employers to offer this new NMC-recognised route to becoming a Registered Nurse and to continue our work to build a sustainable NHS workforce for the future.

“Nurses are the foundation of effective community services, bringing care closer to people’s homes and supporting improved outcomes for local people – and this new route, earning while you learn, opens up the opportunity for so many more people to achieve their goal of becoming a Registered Nurse.”

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