Ever since she was a child, Fola Yusuf-Adewuyi wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a nurse. Years later, and now a mum of three herself, Fola is living her dream and is one of the first Nursing Associates to qualify through an innovative Open University apprenticeship.
“My mum used to be chief matron back home and she inspires me a lot,” says Fola, who moved from Nigeria to the UK in 2007. “She loves to help people. Even when she’s not at work, she helps people around her and I’ve always wanted to be like her.”
With three children to look after, finding a flexible way to achieve her ambitions was vital for Fola. She signed up for a Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship, delivered by the OU at the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Nursing Academy.
It allowed Fola to earn while she learned, gain practical skills, and become a registered Nursing Associate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
“The OU gave me the flexibility to study,” she says. “My tutorials [were all outside of working hours] and were recorded, so even if you missed it, you can go back [to watch] the next day.
“I had some amazing assessors; they have all been so brilliant. When my family was going through a significant life change [in my second year], I spoke with [my assessor] and he said that there is always help, I just need to ask.”
With work and family life to balance, Fola says she is hugely grateful that her OU tutors would work around her busy schedule. Throughout her studies, they were only ever a call away.
Fola’s apprenticeship saw her gain hands-on experience across a series of placements in the Trust. Nursing Associates cover all fields of nursing practice across the qualification, so practice learning can range from shadowing the district nurse, working in a hospital setting with children and young people, or providing end of life care. It’s given her a broad range of skills she can use in her day-to-day work.
“I loved [the practical side] every bit of the way,” she says. “Now that I’ve finished, I can do bank shifts with almost every department in the Trust because I’ve worked with them while I was on placement.”
Apprenticeships are one way to address the nursing shortage, as the Trust is able to grow and retain its own talent. Since completing her qualification and becoming a Nursing Associate, Fola has already taken a big step in her nursing career.
“I have more responsibilities because some of the staff now report to me. Sometimes I coordinate the shifts and I have all the resources [to help the team].”
After spending her childhood watching her mother provide care for the community, Fola is proud to be carrying on the family tradition.
“My immediate family are proud of me, that mum has finally made it! And my mum is extremely proud of me that I’m following in her footsteps.
I have two nieces back home that are qualified nurses, so it’s a continuous thing in my family. I’m so proud of myself and this is not the end! I still have more learning to do but what I’ve learned from the OU and then Kent Community is going to help me [in my professional and personal life].Fola Yusuf-Adewuyi
Nursing Associate apprentice
Speaking at her graduation ceremony as one of the very first Nursing Associates to come through the Trust’s Nursing Academy, Fola reflected on her years of hard work:
“It feels so amazing. We are the pacesetters, the first set [of apprentices] and we are not stopping now. We’re going higher and higher!
For anyone considering studying or becoming an apprentice, Fola had the following words of encouragement:
“If I can do it, you can do it, everybody can do it. Never give up on your dreams.”