Anglia Ruskin University is at the heart of push for more nurses
The Royal College of Nursing has said universities represent the best means of growing the nursing workforce after the government acknowledged that the UK’s shortage was approaching crisis levels. GEMMA GARDNER visited the Young Street home of Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge nursing courses to find out how it is helping to produce the next generation of nurses.
“We want to make sure that students to not just have the opportunity to practice things but to try and experience what it feels like to be in a clinical area,” deputy head of school Grahame Douglas explains.
At Anglia Ruskin University’s purpose-built Young Street building students gain the knowledge and skills necessary for a career in nursing by learning in carefully-designed realistic operating theatres and wards.
While classroom-based learning is put into practice and confidence is built using mannequins that simulate medical scenarios.
“Students are able to learn without the pressure of being with sick patients and very busy wards,” Grahame explains.
A report by three leading think tanks predicts that in the next five years nurse shortages will double.
The Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and King’s Fund say a combination of international recruitment, student grants and innovation is needed.
Anglia Ruskin’s facilities - skills rooms, operating theatres and mock wards - allow students to get a simulated feel of the environment that they will be ultimately working in as professionals.
“Some of the mannequins work. They will open their eyes and talk,” explains Grahame.
“We can programme some of our mannequins to simulate a patient becoming acutely ill and we can see how the nurses respond to, for example, the blood pressure going down or the temperature going up.”
“We want to make it as realistic as we can because it helps with the anxiety. It’s about confidence-building and gaining knowledge. We assess people as well. You have to be able to demonstrate that you’ve learned what you’ve seen,” he adds.
All students are required to wear their nursing uniform to university to further simulate the working environment.
The university says that more than 90 per cent of students go on to employment within six months of finishing the course.
They are mostly employed in the Cambridge area at either Addenbrooke’s Hospital or Royal Papworth.
Students on the courses - adult, children or midwifery - achieve both an academic (BSc Hons degree) and a professional qualification through a 50/50 split of university based learning and work placements.
Crucially the university reaches out to students of all ages looking to embark on a career in nursing, as well as those looking to return to the profession.
“We are very actively recruiting men and women of all ages because Britain needs nurses and nursing is a great career to have,” says Grahame, who is also a registered nurse. “Once you’ve registered as a nurse you’ve got a career for life if you want that. The opportunities for work are massive.”
Current figures suggest there more than 30,000 extra nurses are needed, which the think tanks say on current trends will rise to nearly 70,000 within five years and 100,000 after a decade.
The think tanks have come up with some solutions to solve the staffing problems. For nurses, they say studying in England must be made more attractive.
Anglia Ruskin offer training at its sites in Cambridge, Peterborough and Chelmsford in Essex.
Student and single mum Grace Lowrie, 31, previously trained as a beautician and a teacher.
She developed a passion for nursing while working in care after her daughter was born and decided to go back to university.
“The university are really great at supporting single parents. I think being older for me gives me more focus.”
For Fiona Crowder, 28, nursing was something she always wanted. After leaving her career in the military, she decided to retrain at Anglia Ruskin.
“I’ve always loved nursing,” she says. “I had a family and decided that the time was right to go and do something that I really wanted to do.”
“Ultimately I think you want to be somebody that wants to provide care to people in a very caring and kind way and in a very skilled way,” says Grahame. “I think everyone accessing healthcare wants somebody who knows what they’re doing and that’s kind, caring and patient and can communicate and work with other people. I think you have to like being with people. I’m very proud of our nursing students.”