Monthly Archives: May 2017

MMU Trainee Nurse Associate Claire Barnes talks about the programme and being a student at MMU

Claire has worked at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust since 2015. Prior to working in healthcare, Claire held experience in banking and customer service. After her mother had been cared for as a terminally ill patient at The Christie, she applied to work as a Clerical officer in the hospital. Claire quickly realised she had a desire to provide a more hands-on approach to patient care leading her to join the nursing team as a Healthcare Assistant. She was encouraged to apply as one of the Trainee Nursing Associates when the opportunity arose. Claire Joined the Trainee Nursing Associate Programme in January 2017 and is one of the first wave of cohorts in the Northwest.


Applying to be part of the Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) programme was an amazing opportunity and I was encouraged to apply by one of my unit Staff Nurses. Out of nearly 1,700 applicants, 240 were appointed. I am one of 9 from my trust. Flicking through all the information I had been provided on the course and our work placements it was easy to see this was a structured and well supported programme. MMU had provided us information on things we would need to know such as Harvard Referencing, study skills, the Library and personal tutors but they missed out one vital part – How to deal with a reduction in the mum cool factor! I am officially an embarrassment to my teen since discovering it is not acceptable to take him shopping and ask him to hold up bags whilst I measured if my folder would fit inside for uni. We did however persevere and I am the proud owner of not only a shiny bag, but a wealth of stationary to scribble notes with!


The programme allocates us 4 days in placement and one day at University a week. This is a great balance which allows us to apply the knowledge we learn at MMU to practice in the workplace along with developing our growing base of clinical skills. If you asked me on the day we study Anatomy and Physiology, I can guarantee I would tell you 2 years non-stop would not be enough time to make my non-spongey brain absorb the informationAs always, things always seem a bit more daunting than they actually are. It’s great to know we have a safety net in place which comes in the form of the university tutors who we are welcome to email at any time for help and advice. 


Our introduction day to Manchester Met was a blur, there was so much information and so many people I struggled to remember who did what. Once I got over my midlife crisis on the first official day, (mingling with the young folks made me feel old) University life has been a pleasant surprise. The course information, study topics and weekly reading can be found online via Moodle. I do sometimes worry if the lecturers really can see what time we log on and if they can, what do they make of my midnight reading sessions? From commuting to studying, time management and planning has been my savior and is an essential key in a course that entails both work and study. My first milestone achievement was managing to get on the correct bus and remember to get off at the right stop (this took about 6 weeks and up until then my bus buddy Lauren had to supervise me). The university lecturers are fantastic and manage to somehow make even the most tiresome of topics (Sorry Manual Handling!) enjoyable. From Anatomy & Physiology to Evidence Based practice we are both well prepared andsupported throughout. Both Moodle and your tutors are only a click away and I look forward to Wednesdays which is our allocated Uni day.


In the workplace, Hobnob Heroes is my new nickname for the Trainee Nursing Associates, not only because our uniform is a fetching colour of biscuit (also known as camouflage cardboard) but because we are the hard-core dunking biscuits… persistent and refuse to crumble under pressure. People have started to notice us, ask questions about our new role – Who are we? What can we do? I think this is one of the biggest challenges for the TNA cohorts in the workplace, to be recognized in the role and for people to understand what part we will play in the nursing team. 


My first placement has been at the Endocrine Department which deals with both blood transfusion and Endocrine patients. We conduct a variety of day case tests and is a fantastic learning opportunity for my specialist area. I have managed to not only expand my base of clinical skills (this was needed to allow me to take part in some of the tests we carry out on the unit) but I am starting to build a knowledge about why the tests are carried out and the treatment paths once an illness has been identified. There have been challenges on the way and mine ironically came in the form of cannulation. I am a vampire by trade (phlebotomist) however transferring my phlebotomy skills over to cannulation proved difficult as I couldn’t quite get my head round the ‘wiggly wire’ part to the cannula. Our clinical skills team however is amazing and with the support of Marion I’m proud to say I can now cannulate like a trooper! 


The programme really is the full package and is not for the faint hearted. It requires hard work, precise time management, positivity (We are after all guinea pigs) and an acceptance that our programme is somewhat fluid changing as it is developed, but that is what makes it exciting! It will be worth it though, in 2 years not only will we be the proud owners of a degree but we will have opened the door to a new career path which will take us anywhere we want to go! 


Claire will keep us informed of her progress during the programme. So watch out for the next instalment.