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Future of nursing – OU nursing students graduate

Lauren (left) and Kristy (right) with Julia Saunders, Practice Development Nurse

For the past four years, The Open University has had a strong relationship with Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Kings Lynn. With the support of Health Education England (HEE), three hardworking Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) were given the opportunity to study for a Degree in Nursing with The OU. Now fully qualified nurses, they talk about their success and the challenges they faced.

Like many of The Open University’s courses, studying can be worked around employment. For the QEH graduates this meant juggling shift work as an HCA, with assignments and supernumerary practise as a student nurse. For Kristy, she had to plan ahead:

I had to be incredibly disciplined and motivated in myself to study after a shift at work – for me it worked best when I blocked out dedicated days.


Through studying, the QEH graduates also met a network of other HCAs studying to become Nurses. Workshops with NHS Trusts in Cambridge and Peterborough, opened up a range of learning opportunities across the East of England; and with a large part of the course being placement, the graduates had the chance to work in a range of departments at QEH and other NHS Trusts in the surrounding area. Lauren felt that this was key to her learning:

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, made lots of new friends and learnt about plenty of different conditions along the way.

Since completing their courses, all three QEU graduates have secured jobs as nurses, excelling at their interviews and flourishing in their new positions. Kristy said:

Every day is a learning opportunity, you just need to seek it out. It was good to see varying illnesses and patients’ needs to broaden my knowledge, and I’m absolutely thrilled with what I’ve achieved.

Louise Reeds, Staff Tutor in Nursing at The Open University commented: “It can be tough at times to study whilst working, but it’s great for development – our students tell me that they are happy to continue in the job that they love and fit study around other commitments. The OU students at QEH were very well supported by their managers and the practice development team.”

The OU are now pleased to be working with the QEH, HEE and the Norfolk and Waveney STP through the trainee Nursing Associate apprenticeships.

Find out more

About studying Nursing at The Open University

Read about being a Trainee Nursing Associate 

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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