A talented group of senior secondary pupils from remote and rural areas of the Highlands graduated from an innovative University of Stirling Pre-Nursing Scholarship Programme recently.
The 16 young people celebrated their success at a special graduation ceremony in Inverness where they were presented with graduation certificates by NHS Highland Board Nurse Director, Heidi May.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the students who have done a fantastic job since enrolling on the programme,” said Heidi. “Maybe I’m biased, but they are choosing the best career in the world by going into nursing.
“The University of Stirling help us here at NHS Highland to develop some of the best nurses in the UK. Nursing is such a privileged job to do and I wish all the students the very best for the future.”
The Pre-Nursing Scholarship Programme was delivered at Stirling’s Highland Campus in Inverness. It was designed and led by the University of Stirling’s School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health, in partnership with NHS Highland and Western Isles, Highland Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Education Centre.
This two-year pilot project has been funded by Scottish Government and NHS Education for Scotland and was established to provide an inspiring experience for would-be nurses, allowing them to develop core skills through the achievement of the SQA Skills for Work Health Sector Intermediate 2 Course.
The project aims to promote nursing as a first choice career and enhance school pupils’ employability, communication and networking skills, whilst addressing issues of isolation within remote and rural areas.
One of the graduates, Nyree-Katie MacDiarmid from Glen Urquhart High School said: “The scholarship has enhanced my learning skills and helped my professional development. I have enjoyed the very detailed work and the high standard that the University expects from its students. It has helped me decide that this is definitely the career path I want to pursue.”
As part of the programme, each young person was allocated a senior nursing student to act as a ‘buddy’. These buddies also received certificates at Thursday’s graduation ceremony.
Claire Barron, one of the senior nursing student buddies said: “I really enjoyed the opportunity to help other young adults with their journey towards a career in nursing. I found it very helpful and rewarding to help them learn in the placement and discovered that I knew a lot more about nursing than I thought.
“I have enjoyed the friendship that I have with my students and will hope to keep in touch with them. I would recommend this learning opportunity to all younger school pupils and university students as it is a great opportunity for all involved. Thank you for the chance to be a part of this experience.”
University of Stirling Teaching Fellow/Lead for Recruitment, Isobel Chisholm, who leads the programme said: “The completion of this final cohort of Pre-Nursing students has seen a number of applications received through UCAS for a place on the BSc in Nursing Programme at Highland Campus.
“This Programme won the Enterprise and Employability Across Learning (Secondary) in the Scottish Education Awards 2013 and was short listed for the Partnership of the Year Award in the 2013 Student Nursing Times Awards.
NHS Highland Workforce Planning and Development Manager, Pam Cremin, said: “The recruitment and sustainability of workforce in remote and rural areas is a key workforce challenge for NHS Highland. The Pre-Nursing Scholarship Programme promotes the nursing profession to prospective students from remote and rural Highland with the aim that they will enter nurse training locally and continue to be retained locally throughout their professional nursing career.”
Maxine Scott, Development Officer - Skills for Work with the Highland Council said: "The opportunity for the young people to experience a working environment, higher education and gain a qualification has given them an invaluable experience to aid them in making an informed decision about their future careers. This is reflected in all 16 of the Highland candidates actively pursuing nursing as a career now."
The pupils involved in the project come from Glen Urquhart, Golspie, Grantown, Kinlochleven, Lochaber, Portree, Tain, Wick
The graduation for the 9 Western Isles young people will be held in Stornoway in April.