NHS frontline workers are first to graduate in Masters

Healthcare professionals from across Merseyside took time out of their busy day to be the first ever to graduate in a unique new programme.

The cohort - made up of nurses, physiotherapists and paramedics - were the first to earn the MSc Advanced Clinical Practitioner Apprenticeship.

We caught up with six of them at Liverpool Cathedral on Monday, March 27 at the Graduation Ceremony for Nursing & Allied Health - the first ceremony of our Bicentenary Year at LJMU.  

“I’m really so proud to have got through. It was tough but it opens up a whole lot of career opportunities for me,” said a delighted Jane Hulme, a community matron based in Norris Green, Liverpool.

Martin Thomas, also graduating, agrees. Martin has worked in the NHS for 30 years and says to become an Advanced Clinical Practitioner enables you to have a wider brief across healthcare delivery.

“I’ve been working a lot with the mentally ill in Southport as a community psychiatric nurse but this degree will allow me to work at a much higher level.”

Jane and Martin were among 16 healthcare professionals paid by their employers to study for the qualification via the Degree Apprenticeship scheme, which not only pays fees but allows them a day or two a week to research and study.

With the course starting back in 2020, the group were on the frontline of the health service throughout the pandemic and have worked and studied right the way through the toughest of times. “Their commitment to their studies and their work throughout the programme has been astonishing,” said programme leader Joanne Fisher.

“Thanks to their dedication, the health service has a new intake of experts who are also leaders, researchers and educators. Here at LJMU we are proud to contribute to the national call to expand the workforce at an advanced clinical level.”

The three-year ‘apprenticeship’ is hugely attractive but it also means studying while holding down a full-time job.

“I was worried at first about doing both, especially as my first degree was in 1989,” says Martin. “But once I got organised and into the course, I found I really enjoyed the research and study.”

For Jane, also in healthcare for almost 30 years, it almost became too much when her mother was diagnosed with cancer half-way through the course.

“I was ready to pack it in but Jo convinced me to stay and the support from John Moores was fantastic.”

Well done to Jane and Martin and all our first cohort of Masters Advanced Clinical Practitioners (via the Apprentice route).


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