Exemplar Health Care’s first cohort of Nursing Associates graduate

2 December 2021

2021 graduates

On 24 November 2021, seven Exemplar Health Care colleagues celebrated graduating from the Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) programme, and qualifying as Nursing Associates.

Colleagues from four of Exemplar Health Care’s 35 specialist care homes started the programme with the University of Sheffield in October 2019.

Since then, they have completed the programme, delivered via an apprenticeship route, which involves attending university alongside learning ‘on the job’ in an Exemplar Health Care home and completing placements in other health and social care settings.

The Nursing Associate role was introduced by Health Education England almost three years ago. It was designed to bridge the gap between Healthcare Support Workers and Registered Nurses, and help build the capacity of the nursing workforce, providing a progression route into graduate-level nursing for those wanting to continue learning and develop their career.

This month, Exemplar Health Care’s first cohort of Trainee Nursing Associates completed the programme.

Congratulations to our graduates:

  • Jasmin Barker (trained at Neville Court and is now working at Willowbeck)
  • Jack Cooke (trained at Neville Court and is now working at Willowbeck)
  • Clara Lake (Neville Court)
  • Gemma Walker (Dearnevale)
  • Christine Coe (Longley Park View)
  • Dian Salamah (Greenside Court)
  • Rachel Westbrook (Greenside Court).

Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic

During the pandemic, learners have overcome the challenges of not being able to complete face-to-face learning and doing placements in a range of health and social care settings.

They’ve utilised online platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet to attend lectures and meetings.

Many of our trainees also have young children, which made the balance of juggling home schooling with full time education and on-the-job learning, that more difficult.

Victoria Parkes, Senior Practice Learning Facilitator, shares: “The pandemic stopped placements for a time, which meant organising alternative opportunities for our learners, to ensure that they met the programme requirements for qualification.

“All graduates have had to juggle family life, learning and working though this pandemic.

“They have met these challenges head-on and have shown dedication, commitment, resilience and amazing strength throughout difficult times.

“They really have given their all and we would like to express our admiration in all they have accomplished.

“I am proud to have supported them over the last two years, and know they will do some amazing things in their new profession as Exemplar Health Care’s first Nursing Associates.”

Learn and earn as a TNA: hear from Gemma

The TNA programme gives colleagues the opportunity to continue learning and progress in their career, whilst still working and earning a wage.

This is what attracts a lot of people to do the programme.

“When I heard that Exemplar were offering an opportunity to boost my skills in care, I jumped at the chance,” said Gemma Walker, a recent graduate from Dearnevale.

“I’ve got a mortgage and a family to support. I’d never be able to train as a qualified Nurse by taking three years out of work to be at uni. So, training as a Nursing Associate while staying in my role means I can learn and earn – which is key for me.”

A route into nursing: hear from Jack

The TNA programme and Nursing Associate role, is a great route into nursing for those who are interested in progressing their career.

Jack Cooke, one of the recent graduates, shares: "When I started my career with Exemplar Health Care, I had great career ambitions. After 18 months of working as a Support Worker, I applied for the role of Team Leader.

"And when the company started offering the Trainee Nursing Associate apprenticeship, I knew that I had to apply.

"This is one of the best opportunities that I’ve had to work full time and also study to progress in the area of work that I love doing.

"In the future I would love to become a Registered Nurse and continue providing the highest standards of nursing care to our service users - and the Trainee Nursing Associate apprenticeship will help me to achieve this.”

This sentiment is echoed by Rachel Westbrook who says: “I’d always showed an interest going into nursing long-term. Doing it this way is doing it in a place that I know I’m comfortable.

“The benefit is that it’s a full-time job. I don’t have the financial implications of being in university. Because I know the home and I worked here a long time, it seemed like the next natural step.”

Career development with Exemplar Health Care 

We're currently recruiting Health Care Assistants and Registered Nurses across our 35 care homes

When you join us, you’ll have access to a wide range of online learning modules through our eLearning platform, and we offer a variety of training programmes, qualifications and apprenticeships.

Read more about our career development opportunities