Case study

Nursing Apprenticeship Graduate Becomes a Rapid Response Nurse

Abigail Harris has always wanted to be a nurse, and because of her passion for patient care, she was able to start her MSc Nursing (Adult) Apprenticeship. Abigail is now working as a rapid response nurse with the Derbyshire Community Health Services. 

Passionate about nursing 

After completing her first degree in BSc Health Sciences through the Open University, Abigail started her job at Derbyshire Community Health Services. She knew she wanted to be a nurse but felt she didn’t have the support available to study full-time. She says:

“I wanted to be a nurse for a long time, but I was struggling to be able to afford it whilst working full time. But my employer saw my passion and they agreed to fund me through an MSc Nursing (Adult) apprenticeship with the University of Derby.” 

Confidence is essential 

Throughout her apprenticeship, Abigail undertook a number of placements in a variety of healthcare settings, from acute wards to community and urgent treatment. And although Abigail has already had previous experience in health care, she still found the placements to be eye-opening to what the ‘real world’ looks like. 

“The most important trait to have is definitely resilience - I cannot stress enough how having the confidence and knowing what I can actually do affects my daily job. The sudden transition from being a student with little-to-no responsibility, to having full responsibility for a number of people as a nurse is very scary, but I would say that the degree prepared us for it as best as it could, which made the transition a lot smoother and a lot less stressful. Especially in the last part of my studies, all the academics are really looking deeper into preparing us for the accountability that is to come.” 

The University facilities 

Abigail found simulation training very helpful in relation to her apprenticeship, it allowed her to improve her skills by using various equipment and practising techniques on dummies in a hospital-like environment. 

“It allows you to become more familiar with equipment commonly encountered as a nurse which makes it less daunting when you use it on a real patient for the first time.” 

From an apprenticeship into the real world 

After graduating in 2022, Abigail was able to transition into a role smoothly, she gained many useful skills for her future in nursing. 

"I was lucky because I was able to do a placement here, it was my second-to-last placement, and I was offered a job right after graduation. Towards the end of my apprenticeship, I had a meeting with the Trust, where we finalised my transfer from the apprenticeship straight into a role. It took away the massive pressure that graduates are put through, where not only that you have to focus on finishing your degree, but also stress about your future, applying for jobs, interviews and such.” 

She explains: “Because the degree opens so many doors to different career paths, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to actually go for the role of a rapid response nurse, or go a different direction. Now, I absolutely love the path that I chose; being a rapid response nurse, no day is the same; you never know where you are going to be and what are you going to get called out to, whether it’s a catheter problem, palliative patient, or wound care. I wanted something that’s busy, unpredictable, and kind of exciting, and this has met all of my expectations, in the best way possible.”

Abigail Harris - MSc Nursing (Adult) Apprentice

I would definitely recommend this course to anyone thinking about coming to study at the University of Derby! The facilities, online resources and staff are great. I’m proud to be a University of Derby Master's Graduate.

Abigail Harris
MSc Nursing (Adult) Apprentice
Two female nursing students using breathing apparatus on a female mannequin

Find out more about this apprenticeship

Read more about the MSc Nursing (Adult), including what it entails and how to get into this programme.

Find out more about the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship MScFind out more about the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship MSc