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"It was my route into nursing – no boat required"

Isle of Wight NHS Nursing Associates

Kerry Black, 30, is one of the first Nursing Associates to qualify through a partnership with The Open University (OU) and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust.

Kerry shares how an apprenticeship has allowed her to pursue her NHS career dreams without having to leave her island home.

“I started off at the GP surgery 10 years ago as a receptionist and progressed to a healthcare assistant,” explains Kerry. “I felt I got to the top of the progression ladder and that the next logical step would be to do my nurse associate training with the OU.”

Completing the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship locally meant that Kerry could stay close to home and study around her day job. It also helped her to avoid a rather lengthy commute by boat to the mainland.

“Having the training at the local hospital on the island was much easier because that stretch of water – the Solent – costs an awful lot to get across,” she says. “[The alternative would be either moving to the mainland or finishing a 12-hour hospital shift and getting on a boat to come home.]

“[The OU apprenticeship meant] I was able to learn and earn at the same time which was really handy with having bills to pay. It worked out really well doing it this route.”

COVID wards and work placements

Kerry joined the apprenticeship programme just one month before the pandemic and soon began caring for patients on the COVID-19 ward. She also played her part in history by helping to deliver the Island’s vaccination scheme.

Throughout her 2 years of study, Kerry got to experience various placements across the NHS Trust, as she explains:

Kerry Black, Nursing Associate at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust

I worked on the COVID ward and then I’ve had placements on coronary care unit theatres, mental health and learning disability teams. So, there’s a really wide variety of placements you can secure on the island.

Kerry Black
Nursing Associate, Isle of Wight NHS Trust

After completing her last placement of the degree, Kerry was delighted to be offered a role in the community rapid response team where she hopes to continue to progress and give back to those in need.

She said: “I thoroughly enjoy my job. I like helping people, particularly within my role in the community rapid response team. You see people in crisis and once you’ve put your interventions you feel you’ve done a good job because they’re safe, they’re comfortable and happy within their own home.”

Following in her mother’s footsteps

Not only did Kerry have the support of her tutors and colleagues, she also shared the experience with her mum, who qualified with the OU in the same year.

“My mum has completed her full Registered Nurse training with the OU,” explains Kerry. “She started a year before I started my degree. So it worked out very well we could discuss our progress and point me in the right direction.

“Qualifying within six months of each other has been very exciting.”
Kerry is one of 22 nurses to qualify through the apprenticeship programme, which aims to upskill and grow its nursing workforce. Learn more about OU apprenticeships (including the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship) and hear more from Kerry below.

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