Spotlight

Nursing degrees available in Somerset for the first time ever

People in Somerset who are interested in training to become a nurse can now study at a local university centre.

The University Centre Somerset (part of Bridgwater & Taunton College) has been recommended for approval by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) to provide a nursing degree and nursing apprenticeship.

The degrees cover people who are interested in a career in nursing adult patients who are being cared for by the NHS with either physical or mental health needs.

The NMC has also recommended the approval of a Trainee Nurse Associate programme – which involves working with healthcare support workers and registered nurses to care for patients – a steppingstone into a career in nursing.

All the courses are validated by University of the West of England (UWE) with the apprenticeships due to start in September 2021.

Ethna Bashford, our director of patient care for professional practice and standards, said: “We are absolutely delighted with this news, which is a real landmark moment to provide nurse training locally in Somerset.

“We are confident that the provision of local degree courses will encourage so many more people in Somerset to consider a career in nursing, which will be of huge benefit to the county’s health and social care organisations, by helping us to address our nursing vacancies and having our own local supply of registered nurses.

“Young people will not have to leave Somerset to access nurse training as this local programme will provide great career opportunities in this county for them to access.’

“We see this is just the beginning as this partnership with the University Centre Somerset provides us with an opportunity in the future to potentially train students in other branches of nursing, as well as considering courses to train allied health professionals.”

Louise Rowley, vice principal at Bridgwater & Taunton College, said: “This is groundbreaking, we are the first college in the country to be recommended to deliver nursing degrees and nursing apprenticeships.

“The shortage of nursing skills in Somerset has long been recognized and, in collaboration with health and social care employers across Somerset and UWE, we aim to develop and build programmes to fill skills shortages, so these degree programmes are the first step in turning the vision into a reality.”

Local MP Rebecca Pow visited the college last week to meet those involved in the project and for a tour of the new clinical skills and simulation centre.

She said: “This is a really important step for Somerset. Education has the power to transform lives and the collaboration between the college, NHS and UWE represents an excellent opportunity for our community.

“These programmes unlock career pathways for students, which in turn, will benefit local people through the provision of highly qualified health care professionals and excellent career pathways which will enable people to have long and rewarding careers locally."

Andy Berry, principal and chief executive of Bridgwater & Taunton College, said: “BTC is an exceptionally successful provider of education, with a long heritage of developing partnerships with employers to meet their skills needs.

“This collaboration is an exemplar of partnerships in action, the resulting degree pathways will benefit our students and local community. I could not be prouder and congratulate all those involved.”

The first of these exciting opportunities, to become an Adult or Mental Health Nursing Degree Apprentice with the NHS in Somerset, is now open to applications.

Prospective students require a minimum of Level 2 functional skills in maths and English, or equivalent, and a suitable Level 3 qualification such as A Levels, BTEC or NVQ.

For more information and to submit an application, visit the NHS Jobs website or www.somerset.ac.uk.