As we celebrate the Year of the Nurse 2020, Oxford Health is joining a new scheme to inspire the next generation of nurses: The Thames Valley Nurse Cadets. It is a programme for 16-19 -year-olds to enter the profession and see how far they want to go.

The cadets will join Oxford Health in a Band 2 senior healthcare worker apprenticeship programme, which consists of four days of working and one day of studying per week. After a two-year course, the cadet can choose to become a Band 3 health care assistant, proceed to a further two-year nursing associate training or to study for a degree to become a registered nurse. Every cadet who completes the programme is guaranteed an interview for a healthcare assistant role – and an interview at the university.

Nurse cadets project manager Sophie Grimshaw (pictured above right) is excited about the programme. She has spent the last few months getting the programme into shape and going into schools, parents’ meetings and career fairs to tell about the opportunity to earn and learn.

“This is as much about giving young people a chance to get exposure to the roles in the NHS as inspiring our future workforce. There are some 350 careers in the NHS, but most of the time we read just about doctors and nurses. This is as much about the young person seeing what they like, as it is what they don’t! It is also an opportunity to see how far you’d like to go academically.”

The cadets’ placements will be in mental health and community health teams in Oxfordshire and training will take place at the trust’s Learning and Development base in Unipart House, East Oxford. Every placement will team two cadets together so everyone will have buddy.

Sophie Grimshaw is confident the cadets will greatly contribute to the teams where they will be placed, even if they’ll need direction and guidance from the more experienced staff.

“They will add real value to the teams and patient experience,” she believes.

Chief nurse Marie Crofts (pictured above left) is equally excited:

“With a shortage of nurses across the country, it’s vital that we look at how we can grow and nurture our own local talent,” she says.

“The nurse cadet role allows us to engage young people, offering an entry route to nursing, while utilising the apprenticeship programmes to create clear routes for progression. This is an exciting opportunity for the trust to be supporting and shaping our future NHS workforce.”

Applications to the nurse cadet programme will open on March 2, with the first cohort of 20 cadets starting on September 7.

If you would like to learn more or consider applying, please email NurseCadets@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk.