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Published: 8 October 2021

Footsteps of Fola

Graduate Nurse FolashadeFolashade Yusuf-Adewuyi always dreamed of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming a nurse, but never thought it was going to be possible.

The mum-of-three said: “It was always my dream. When I came to the UK from Nigeria I applied to study at the University of Greenwich, but I wasn’t able to take up the place as I was juggling a very young family at that time, it just wasn’t possible for me.

“Then I saw the advert on Facebook for apprentice nurses with Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) and I thought, ‘this is my chance’.

“My mother Betty had been the chief nurse of my whole district back home in Nigeria so I was desperate to follow in her footsteps. I applied for the role but I knew there would be a lot of competition. When I was invited for an interview I thought to myself, ‘I’ll just go along, I probably won’t get in’. But then – wow! I did it.”

Fola was offered one of 16 apprentice nurse associate places with KCHFT, chosen from among hundreds of applicants. Their course is fully accredited by the Open University. A delighted Fola joined the other new recruits in January 2019 for an induction day in Maidstone.

She said: “I was so happy to be accepted onto the apprenticeship scheme. Going on placement in the trust was great as I experienced so many different settings and met lots of new people.  “Using the simulation room was excellent, particularly the dementia training which helped us to understand how people with dementia are feeling, how they perceive things differently to us. It’s one thing reading it from a book but to do that it gives you another dimension in how to care.”

Aside from learning complex nursing and clinical skills, Fola said that completing her apprenticeship has helped her in so many other ways: “I have learned so much, how to juggle learning with a family, how to be resilient. I have three boys, Moses, 12, Ezekiel, nine and Daniel, who is just three. During COVID-19 it was scary at first as I needed to provide care to patients in the community who were Covid-positive, but I followed the infection prevention guidelines, we had plenty of PPE and training in how to use it, so I was fine. One time I saw seven Covid positive patients in one day. It wasn’t all good. I was mentally tired and really cried one time but then I thought, ‘I’m OK, I am healthy, I can do this and I need to help these patients’. That kept me going.

“The support from my manager, Owen, and the rest of my team, was fantastic. My children carried on at school because I was a key worker, but there was no breakfast or after-school provision. However, the team was flexible with the times I was working so I could drop the boys off and pick them up every day. My family was also very supportive of my learning, the kids understood that sometimes I had to attend an online lecture at 7.30 or 8pm and they needed to keep quiet, or my husband Ade kept them occupied.”

Fola now has a permanent role as a fully qualified nurse associate with the Acute Response Team in Deal. “I support the nurses and the healthcare assistants come to me for advice. For patients who are coming home after being in an acute hospital we work closely with the therapy teams, social services and GPs to provide the best care for people to help them to recover. “I am so happy I had the opportunity to follow in my mother’s footsteps, to become a nurse. It’s a dream come true.”

In all, 16 nurse associates graduated from our apprenticeship scheme in June 2021 and all now have permanent employment at KCHFT. These are the first graduates from our academy, which now has more than 70 apprentices, from occupational therapists to registered nurses and many more. Louise Norris, KCHFT Director of Human Resources, Organisational Development and Communications said: “We launched our academy two-and-a-half years ago. At the time, it was all new but we’re delighted our initiative has paid off and we are now seeing the results of all the planning and hard work. “These new nurse associates are just starting their careers with us after successfully graduating and they will continue to learn and develop their skills as part of  TeamKCHFT. Learning is never over.”

Watch Fola on her first day with KCHFT.