Cumbria Crack

First group of home grown nursing apprentices graduate at NCIC

NCIC’s first cohort of home grown Nursing Apprentices have graduated to become Registered Nurses.

And the first group of Nursing Apprentices are now registered as Nursing Associates.

Many Trusts in North West will have NAs but we may be the first to have a graduate group of registered nurses.

Dr Gwen Baxter, Practice Development Lead at NCIC, said: “We have many apprentices for the size of our organisation and it was only a few weeks ago we were delighted to learn we had already taken the initiative to develop assistant practitioners and nursing associates into registered nurses – we may well be one of the first in the North West to have done this.”

The consequences of COVID-19 and the various restrictions for celebrations means that over the recent months, the Trust’s graduating nursing apprentices (registered nurses, assistant practitioners and nursing associates) have received their awards from Dr Baxter. It is hoped university graduation ceremonies will be held in the future.

Dr Baxter added: “The current nursing apprentices are continuing with their studies through the pandemic, they and their recently graduated colleagues have supported redeployees and the aspirant nurses  who responded to the need for staff, as well as continuing with their own studies, without their usual input from the universities, managed to hold their families together and work in extraordinary circumstances.

“They are to be applauded to have kept going.”

Kathleen Conway, Recruitment Specialist for Practice Development Lead at NCIC, said: “The Trust has come together to support our own staff to develop and become qualified nurses. A lot of staff have supported this group and they are the first ones. As a relatively small Trust we develop more of our staff than any other Trust in the region and are at the forefront of apprenticeship nurses.”

There were 110 participants on the programme including Nursing Associates, Registered Nurse Degrees, Assistant Practitioners and Operating Department Practitioners. Eleven participants received Registered Nurse Degrees, 14 qualified as Nursing Associates and 21 as Assistant Practitioners.


Susan Clark

Susan Clark

Susan was one of the first apprentice nurses at NCIC and is now a qualified nurse. She is currently working at in the Emergency Admissions Unit at the West Cumberland Hospital.

Susan has worked for the Trust for 24 years.

She started as a domestic, then a housekeeper and then qualified as a health care assistant. She then completed an apprenticeship and became an assistant practitioner in 2017 and completed her nursing apprenticeship in 2020.

Rachel Ferguson

Rachel Ferguson

Rachel Ferguson recently qualified as a Nursing Associate at the Cumberland Infirmary.

Rachel joined the team as a health care assistant in 2006 and showed great potential for development so was put forward for the two year Nursing Associate Apprenticeship.

Her manager, Carrie Wilson, Sister on the Care of Elderly Ward, said: “Over the two year programme Rachel has developed her knowledge, confidence and competency in all aspects of her role and is now undertaking further development as a Registered Nurse Degree Apprentice.

“The role of the Nursing Associate is of huge benefit to the patients and the skill mix of the ward team.

“Nursing Associates provide high quality care for a group of patients each shift, including direct patient care, administration of medicines, liaising with the multi-disciplinary team and undertaking skilled tasks.  “Nursing Associates always have the support of a Registered Nurse whom they can refer to.”

Rachel said: “I have been well  supported throughout my apprenticeship programme. That support continues despite very challenging times enabling me to graduate in the midst of a global pandemic.”