The Open University (OU) is used by over 180 NHS employers across the UK to provide opportunities for healthcare support workers to qualify as nurses.
The University’s recent report – Breaking Barriers to Nursing – called on higher education institutions and NHS employers to address barriers to the nursing profession and made a number of recommendations on how these barriers can be overcome.
Analysis included in the report suggests that if key stakeholders focus on removing the barriers faced by prospective students and ensure that all places to study nursing are filled each year, an additional 10,100 nurses could be fully qualified in 10 years’ time, with a further 4,340 additional students still studying. This would fill 13 per cent of the forecasted nursing deficit.
The OU is committed to providing more opportunities for healthcare support workers to qualify as nurses. It works with employers such as the Isle of Wight NHS Foundation Trust to break down barriers to entry and run successful education programmes.
Employers joined a recent webinar to learn more about the OU’s current offering in nursing. This includes the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship and a trainee Nursing Associate Apprenticeship, with well over 300 apprentices already enrolled on the two programmes. We also run BSc Honours Adult Nursing and BSc Honours Mental Health Nursing. From 2020, the new curriculum will look at adding Learning disabilities nursing and Children’s nursing, subject to validation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The webinar was led by Phil Kenmore, Head of Health and Social Care (Business Development) and Evelyn Mooney, Lecturer in Nursing, School of Health Wellbeing and Social Care. Angela Gill, Apprenticeship Development Manager and Alison Smith, Programme Development Manager (Nursing and Healthcare) were also part of the session answering live questions from attendees.
The OU’s unique approach blends technology-enabled learning with local support from expert tutors and is delivered in partnership with employers. An OU nursing degree is well suited to a wide variety of students who prefer a more flexible approach which enables study around family or other commitments and for those less able to move or travel to study.
I know from my previous experience that more and more young people have been put off going to red brick universities because of the stress around the fees and moving away from home. We're certainly seeing a trend in age where there are young people coming into work as healthcare support workers, and then deciding in consultation with their manager or through their appraisal process that they would like to have a career in nursing.Evelyn Mooney, Lecturer in Nursing, School of Health Wellbeing and Social Care
Phil Kenmore added: “What's interesting when you go out and talk to people in the National Health Service about how we deliver nursing, is that you realise that there's an online element to this academic learning that's very flexible. It’s incredibly useful to people that have got busy lives, shift patterns or family life. But at the same time, we've got a local presence. We've got local practice tutors all over the four nations of the UK. They are always available locally to meet with the students … And what I think is interesting is when you listen to stories of OU graduates and you talk with them about the experience they've had, the amount of support they get is amazing.”
Evelyn explained to employers how the curriculum works within the different qualifications, how placements work and how the OU works alongside employers to train the nurses of tomorrow. Over 1,700 new nurses have qualified with the OU since 2002 and over 1,450 nurses are currently on one of our programmes.
If you would like to find out more about the OU’s nursing programmes, please contact us.