A former student nurse at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has defied all odds as she becomes a Registered Nurse following an 18-month apprenticeship.
From as early as she can remember, Felecia Benn had always hoped to become a nurse, which she attributes to her two great aunts, who worked as midwives in the native village of Guyana, South America.
Instilled with compassion and a drive to help others, Felecia moved to England in December 2005, securing employment as a healthcare worker in a care home where she remained for eight years, before she found inspiration to apply for a role at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.
“Although I was quite happy in my job, my career did become quite stagnant. As a mother of three children, and having a home and family to manage, it was difficult to think about starting a new career, but my husband Marlon told me to just go for it, and I did,” said Felecia.
Felecia joined the Trust as a pre-nursing apprentice in 2016, initially on the Urology ward at Royal Preston Hospital, where she gained a Level 3 qualification in Health and Social Care. Very quickly, Felecia rose through the ranks, progressing into more advanced roles, including that of an Assistant Practitioner, before she was encouraged to apply for the Registered Nursing Degree Apprenticeship.
The programme, founded in June 2020, was the first programme in the North West which would enable Assistant Practitioners and Nursing Associates, as well as Healthcare Assistants and those with previous health related qualifications to become Registered Adult Nurses across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System in just 18-months.
“My progression from a healthcare worker to becoming a registered nurse has definitely been a whirlwind, but a dream come true. Before moving to England, I had started a nursing programme in Guyana, but unfortunately I was unable complete this.
“Through the encouragement and support of my colleagues in the NHS, I have been able to gain both my Level 3 and Level 5 qualifications to progress onto my nursing qualification.”
Despite her successes, Felecia admits it has not been as smooth running as hoped, having been diagnosed with dyslexia whilst studying for her Degree Apprenticeship.
“It was very difficult. I wanted to give up but I had a lot of support and encouragement from my colleagues and programme leaders to keep going and just recently, I was told that I had achieved a first in my dissertation.”
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals’ teaching arm, The Health Academy, runs the programme in collaboration with Northumbria University and is validated by the Nursing Midwifery Council.
Apprentices benefit from a wide range of student support from both educators, with small cohorts following a work based model of study split between placement, theory sessions and self-directed study.
Since launching nearly two years ago, the first cohort of seven students have recently qualified as registered nurses and will graduate in the summer, with 48 more currently on the programme in hospitals across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Programme Lead for Nursing at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Joanne Scarborough, said: “Felecia is a wonderful example of how programmes like the Registered Nursing Apprenticeship can accelerate and develop the careers of individuals who have not gone to university.
“Nursing shortages are well-publicised and this innovate route allows us to equip those with long-term career aspirations with the clinical skills and knowledge to become a registered nurse in the NHS.”
Felecia, who has now completed the programme and will graduate with a first-class, will be joining the Urology ward, the area she first started out on, said: “It’s unbelievable at this point in time to say that I am a registered nurse. I have made a lot of sacrifices but I am proud of what I have achieved and I am grateful to everyone, both family and colleagues, who have supported me.”
Applications for the final Registered Nursing Apprenticeship Programme, due to start in September 2022, are now open and applicants with an interest in the programme are encouraged to attend an information session, which are being held virtually over the coming weeks on the following dates:
23rd March 2022 - 5.30-6.30pm
29th March 2022 - 12.00-1.00pm
20th April 2022 - 5.30-6.30pm
To book attend a session, prospective applicants should email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is also actively looking for Healthcare Assistants. Applicants don’t need to hold formal qualifications – though they will be assessed - or have worked in care before with full training available, which includes gaining a Care Certificate to enable successful applicants to work in clinical areas.
More information is available at jobs.lancsteachinghospitals.nhs.uk .