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First paramedics on trailblazing apprenticeship graduate and enter NHS workforce

Four apprentices from Isle of Wight Ambulance Service were among 200 paramedic apprentices from across England who officially graduated from University of Cumbria last week.

Lynsey Groves, Kenny Wilson, Adam Nordell and Steve Smith graduated alongside colleagues from six other ambulance services.

Lynsey, who is 36 and lives in Shanklin, attended the ceremony at Carlisle Cathedral said: “I wanted to do the paramedic degree for many years but taking three years out of work wasn’t a financially viable option. I was really pleased when the Trust started offer the degree level apprenticeship programme and knew it was right for me.

“It was a bit of a shock to be back in an educational environment and I found it quite hard to begin with. The tutors were fully aware of this though and the support you are given throughout is brilliant. I am amazed by how much I have learnt and the academic skills that I now have.”

“I will be forever grateful for being given the chance to follow my dreams with such an amazing career and gain a fully funded degree.”

Having had such a good experience of being mentored throughout the degree programme, Lynsey is now looking at how she too can mentor apprentices in the future. She’s also looking at further education opportunities to build on her degree.

Of those graduating, 74% achieved an upper-class degree*, 32% of those received a first-class degree, illustrating the high calibre of graduates from the programme. 

Louise Walker, Ambulance Education Lead said, “Congratulations to our students who graduated this year, it is fantastic that the first cohort has now completed the course, and I’m delighted to see all their hard work pay off.

"The programme is proving to be a great success and is becoming a popular route for our front-line staff to develop their clinical skills whilst maintaining a full-time role at IWAS. We see the equivalent benefit of being able to develop and enhance our own workforce. This year we have three more people taking the course.

“Developing paramedics through an apprenticeship pathway is an exciting and privileged opportunity. As a placement provider and employer, we strive to ensure all our students have a learning experience that is focused on quality, in a safe and inclusive environment.

“We look forward to supporting them further as they develop in their newly qualified roles, to deliver the best possible care to people on the Isle of Wight.”

The apprenticeship boosts England’s paramedic workforce by up-skilling front line ambulance staff, such as, emergency medical technicians, to fully qualified paramedics in two years. Apprentices continue to work on the front line as they train. 

The apprenticeship takes two years to complete, as opposed to three years via the traditional undergraduate route, and lets apprentices work on the front line, responding to 999 calls, as they train.  

The BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science (Apprenticeship) Degree was devised by the University of Cumbria two years ago to address significant ongoing workforce shortages in the profession. Seven of 11 English ambulance trusts joined the programme, which currently delivers over 600 trained paramedics for the NHS workforce annually. 

According to recently published NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, the NHS will need to increase the numbers of paramedic apprentices to 50% of overall graduate student numbers in nine years.  

Tom Davidson, Director for the Centre for Excellence for Paramedic Practice, at University of Cumbria, is the innovator behind the university’s unique approach to paramedic education.  

He said: “It is clear in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan that paramedics are integral to the success of the plan and the future of the NHS. Paramedics are specifically mentioned 18 times in the document, more than any other allied health profession. 

“We are proud that graduates from our paramedic apprenticeship, delivered in partnership with seven English ambulance trusts, will directly boost the NHS workforce and contribute towards the ambitious targets set out in plan.”  

The Centre for Excellence in Paramedic Practice is the principal provider of paramedic education in the UK.  Based at The University of Cumbria, it has over 3000 students studying on a mixture of degree and professional qualifications, including the paramedic apprenticeship scheme which is delivered in partnership with seven English Ambulance NHS Trusts. 

If you are interested in finding our more about joining the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service please email