Session 3a

Preparing students for lifelong employability within nursing: experiences of programme development and delivery

Marion Taylor, Director of Programmes-Nursing, Middlesex University London
and Professor Kay Caldwell, Head of Institute of Nursing Midwifery and Social Work, Middlesex University London

This paper will focus on our experience of developing and delivery a new programme which prepares students for lifelong employability within nursing.  The programme was part of a national pilot for a new role, that of Nursing Associate, the first new nursing role for generations. 

Session summary

The conference theme of ‘Teaching in a time of uncertainty’ can be seen as being reflective of the delivery of healthcare today, which co-exists in very uncertain times.  This uncertainty relates to the current funding model, the split between health and social care within the UK, and the impact Brexit will have on the healthcare workforce.

The theme of ‘Employability in the hourglass: preparing students for lifelong employability’ is therefore a critical one for nursing academics; programme developers and deliverers are aiming to provide a workforce that is both well equipped for the healthcare demands of the UK population, and is ‘future-proof and sustainable. Programmes need to be innovative and reflective of current pedagogies, as well as highly focussed on meeting the demands of our employer partners, who are looking towards our students as lifelong employees.

The Nursing Associate (NA) role was launched by Health Education England (HEE) in 2016 for commencement in January 2017. We (Middlesex University) were the HEI within one of the 11 pilot sites chosen, NCL. The shortage or registered nurses and recruitment challenges for the profession worldwide, along with the increasing healthcare demands of the population indicate the demand for roles such as the NA is one that is set to continue.  This model has potential application to other professions where the ‘supply’ of graduates for lifelong employability presents a challenge.
The role of the Nursing Associate is the largest scale implementation of a new nursing role for our generation.  It aims to fill the considerable gap between the work of support staff such as HCAs and that of the Registered Nurse. The innovation described within our presentation is the development of an innovative educational programme to support the role, which aims to provide a qualified workforce ready for lifelong employment, either as a NA, or progression into our BSc Nursing.

The programme developed and delivered at Middlesex University (MU) in partnership the pilot group (NCL) meets the rigorous requirements of the HEE curriculum framework, and met the timeframe for rapid recruitment, development and delivery. The programme provides academic underpinning for the Trainee Nursing Associates (TNAs), a block delivery of modules, a robust assessment strategy and a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model of placement learning.

Whilst the exact landscape of the national health service is uncertain, one ‘known’ is the need for a qualified workforce to support the graduate registered nurses, and remain in employment, and this model provides one such solution.