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Published: 28 October 2021

First-ever graduates celebrate their achievement after qualifying as nurse associates 

The first ever cohort of in-house trained nurse associates have graduated from a new clinical academy at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT).

Fourteen people marked their graduation as part of a trust-wide staff celebration day, with eight of them coming along in person to receive their certificates and enjoy a buffet lunch on Friday, 22 October at Kent Event Centre in Detling.

The graduates and their guests heard speeches from Chief Nurse, Dr Mercia Spare and Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, Louise Norris, where they were thanked for their hard work.

This is the first cohort of graduates from KCHFT’s new academy, which was set up to enhance the Kent and Medway NHS workforce through in-house training, accredited by the Open University. The graduates have completed two years of study alongside their employment to become registered nurse associates; the next step to becoming a registered nurse. The academy also has apprentices training to be registered nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Graduate Folashade Yusuf-Adewuye, watched proudly by husband Ade, took to the stage to deliver a heartfelt speech about her own journey to become a nurse associate.

Folashade said: “I don’t recognise the person I was at the start of the course compared to myself now. I am much more confident and so proud to be part of this trust. I have been supported by the academy team, my family and my colleagues every step of the way. It was always my dream to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a nurse. Now my dream has come true.”

KCHFT Chief Nurse Dr Mercia Spare said: “Two years ago we recognised we needed to offer an alternative to people who wanted to train in healthcare but couldn’t afford to take time out to go to university. This is a new model of training but like all good ideas it’s based on a successful model from the past, which is learning on the job.

“Our new nurse associates have worked so hard to receive their new qualification and we are really proud of what they have achieved. This is just the beginning of their nursing journey and we can’t wait to see how they will progress.”


Meet some of our graduates


Carrie Johnson

Carrie has been a valued member of the Hawkhurst Hospital team as a healthcare assistant since 2016. Carrie has continued to be based at the hospital for her nurse associate training and is a positive, enthusiastic member of the team in her new role.

Carrie has always been a great support to her colleagues and now supports the new academy apprentices and students who work in the team. Carrie has been driven and engaging throughout her training.


Folashade Yusuf-Adewuyi

Fola has always been a very positive and motivated trainee nurse associate, volunteering to take part in many events to publicise the nursing academy. She has always gained positive feedback from her placements and base. She is known as a great team player.


Heather Woods

Heather has worked for KCHFT since 1997 in both a community hospital and a community nursing team. During the nurse associate training Heather has been based with Whitstable and Tankerton Community Nursing Team.

This team has always spoken highly of Heather and acknowledged her dedication and determination to transition from a healthcare assistant to a registered nurse associate. Feedback from placements has always been positive and recognise that Heather is a consciousness practitioner. Heather embraced learning and sought additional training to enhance her care.


Kerry Austin

Kerry joined KCHFT in 2019 to start her apprenticeship. Kerry has been based with the Community Nursing Team at the Heart of Kent Hospice for the duration of her training and continues to work with the team following completion of the course.

Feedback from base and placement has always been positive and Kerry has always been engaging with all elements of her apprenticeship role.

Kerry has been a constant support to her colleagues and now nurse associates apprentices within her team.


Mary West

Mary joined KCHFT in 2019 from Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust where she had been working with the community mental health team.

Mary’s base during her nurse associate training has been with Dover Community Nursing Team. We have always had positive feedback from Mary’s manager and her practice assessors on placement.

Mary supported her colleagues by offering to be the cohort rep for the first year of the programme, bringing questions and issues from the cohort to the regular forum meetings and feeding back to them.

Mary was always happy to attend additional skills training whether that was on a one-to-one basis with her clinical student partner or at the Nursing Academy at Heathside.


Samantha Hobday

Samantha joined us in 2015 as a healthcare assistant working at Westview Hospital.

She has been based at Ashford Rural Community Nursing Team since she started her nursing associate course in 2019. Her team has been really supportive and say Samantha is a great team player. Samantha is staying there now  she has qualified.

Samantha has attended her additional learning opportunities offered by the Nursing Academy throughout her course and was strong academically with her Open University grades being consistently high.


Sarah Ingram

Sarah has worked for us since 2017 with the rapid response team Herne Bay as an healthcare assistant. During the nurse associate training, Sarah worked with both the rapid response and community nursing teams in Herne Bay. Sarah has been a dedicated apprentice who since qualifying has offered guidance and support to other apprentices.


Taylor Pickering

Taylor demonstrated consistency with her clinical practice, her written work showing the underpinning knowledge needed for her role as a nursing associate. Taylor’s confidence gradually grew during the course of her academic programme, which was noticeable in her engaging more and more with patients and with the nursing teams where she was based.

Even during the pandemic, she was able to demonstrate her commitment by supporting the COVID-19 vaccination programme with the knowledge and skills she had developed.

Taylor received positive and encouraging feedback from all the professionals she worked alongside, being motivated to reach her goals and to be successful in her nursing career.