23 May 2008

Recruitment success for Northern Ireland’s first OU diplomates of nursing

The first diplomates of Nursing in Northern Ireland

The first diplomates of Nursing in Northern Ireland

Almost all of The Open University’s first diplomates of Nursing in Northern Ireland have gone straight into employment as registered nurses. The students, who graduated at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Saturday May 17, each gained either a DipHE (Adult Nursing) or a DipHE (Mental Health Nursing).

The students studied while they continued to work as health care assistants at one of:
• Belfast City Hospital, Belfast
• Mater Hospital, Belfast
• Royal Hospital, Belfast
• St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh
• Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital, Omagh
• Holywell Hospital, Antrim

The Open University Pre-Registration Nursing Programme in Northern Ireland is delivered in partnership with health care employers to students who are sponsored by the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), whilst employed by health and social care trusts.

Dr Rosemary Hamilton, Director of The Open University in Ireland, said: “We are enormously proud that so many of our first nursing graduates have gone straight into employment as registered nurses. These graduates were originally employed by their trusts as health care assistants and were sponsored to follow The Open University’s work-based learning route to nurse registration. Our partner trusts and the DHSSPS are also delighted with the return on their investment.”

Jacqui Young, a student, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for nursing auxiliaries, and a long time coming. There are some fantastic auxiliaries in the NHS who would make brilliant staff nurses, but who can’t go to a ‘conventional’ university. They deserve the opportunity to train and the OU programme is ideal.

“I think it’s fundamental that all students should have some experience in nursing care before embarking on a nursing career. All the students in my group had years of experience as auxiliaries before starting the programme. This really paid off. When we were on placements away from the base wards, other staff noticed it and commented on the difference between the OU students and students from other, conventional universities,” she said.

Patricia McKeown, Regional Secretary, UNISON, said: “UNISON recognises that many dedicated health care assistants and nursing auxiliaries were keen to progress within their role and beyond, but could not afford to go back to full-time study because of family and financial commitments. Following extensive lobbying by UNISON, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety agreed to fund a work-based route into nursing pilot. We were delighted to advocate The Open University as a provider because of their credibility and values on student support.”

Of the 23 students who graduated, 13 have gone straight into employment as registered nurses; four have been successful at interview, have had conditional offers and are awaiting all checks to be completed; two have interviews in June; and one is on maternity leave.

Editor’s Notes

The Faculty of Health & Social Care has four main teaching programmes: Pre-Registration Nursing; Social Work (where the OU is the UK’s largest part-time provider); Health and Social Care; and Foundation Degrees.

Most students study for four or five years, and will remain in employment throughout. The entire Faculty’s programmes and courses offer flexible and accessible solutions to education, training and development and, in the case of Nursing and Social Work, offer a route to a professional qualification for students who are sponsored, and supported by their employer.

The Programme is delivered by the University in partnership with healthcare employers in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey.

The Pre-Registration Nursing Programme started in 2002 with a small cohort of students in London. There are now over 700 students studying pre-registration nursing at The Open University.

Successful completion of the Programme leads to a DipHE (Adult Nursing) or a DipHE (Mental Health Nursing) and eligibility to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council. Employers of students on OU healthcare courses increasingly recognise the benefits of OU study to the recruitment and retention of staff.

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