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Community and mental health services for Southampton, Portsmouth and parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Milestone for two apprentices from Solent NHS Trust

Two nurses who completed their Registered Nurse Degree apprenticeships

Patricia Cox and Raquel Valentine are the first two apprentices from Solent NHS Trust to complete the Registered Nurse Degree apprenticeship - an apprenticeship which offers a flexible route towards becoming a nurse whilst studying at university part time.

Patty travelled from America after meeting her husband Ian who is from the UK. After working in local authority for eight years, she became an Associate Practitioner in a nursing home. She then applied for a post as a Community Support Worker for the Case Management team at Solent NHS Trust, was offered the position, and began her Registered Nursing Degree apprenticeship.  

Patty overcame two life changing events during her course. In her second year of study, she sadly lost her younger brother to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). And, on her very last day of her placement, she lost her mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s Disease. She said, “This was such a traumatic experience for me, but both Solent and the university were so supportive. They helped me through everything, as well as my husband and support network - I couldn't have done it without them.”

Speaking of her experience upon completing the course, Patty said, “If you’ve been thinking about doing an apprenticeship, just go for it! I have not regretted going through the program and I feel I would not have been able to achieve my goals if it wasn’t for my apprenticeship. It’s tough at first, but it is definitely worth it all in the end - just look what you can achieve!”

Raquel travelled from Zimbabwe and had worked in a nursing home for 12 years. She then joined the Portsmouth Rehabilitation & Reablement Team (PRRT) as a General Rehabilitation Assistant, before beginning the Registered Nursing Degree apprenticeship.

Raquel joined the apprenticeship course as a mature student and at first, she worried about whether she would fit in with the younger students. After taking a leap of faith she said, “Once I got into university and onto the program, I didn’t feel any different than the other students because of all the support around me.”  

During the last year of her course, Raquel’s son underwent surgery for a brain clot. She said, “with the support of the university, Solent and family, I got through that difficult time”. Reflecting on the challenges throughout her education she said “It’s been challenging, it has been a great journey. At first I thought - would I finish? Would I make it through? But after a lot of hard work and support from my peers and everyone around me, I did it. I would really encourage anyone, whether they are already employed within the Trust and are looking for a change, or if they are a student looking for a way into healthcare, to just go for it! It’s worth it in the long run.”

On graduating the Registered Nursing Degree apprenticeship, Raquel said, “The apprenticeship has really helped me a lot. I’ve grown in confidence and in resilience. I would really encourage anyone to go for it, no matter what your age is”.

To find out more about apprenticeships at Solent, visit:

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