The Trust paid apprentices an annual wage and covered their tuition fees to earn their nursing degree.
Seventeen students at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) are thought to be the first in the country to complete a ground-breaking apprenticeship degree scheme.
The nurses, all former healthcare support workers, undertook a mix of on-the-job training on hospital wards and classroom studies at Anglia Ruskin University to earn their BSc (Hons) Nursing Degrees.
The Trust paid apprentices an annual wage and covered their tuition fees – giving them a unique opportunity to earn while they learn at a world-famous hospital, and sample university life.
Now the Trust intends to offer 100 places per annum through the nursing apprenticeship and nursing associate apprenticeship pathways, reinforcing an ambition to home-grow talent.
Ruth May, England’s Chief Nursing Officer, visited the trust earlier this week to congratulate the graduates.
Lorraine Szeremeta, Chief Nurse at CUH, said: “I am delighted we have been able to support this group of dedicated individuals, all of whom were previously working with us as health care support workers.
“They have worked so hard to achieve their goal to become registered nurses, and I’m incredibly proud of them all.
“The feedback is that the combination of on-the-job training, classroom studies combined with a real salary and paid tuition fees is a welcome pathway into nursing and a hugely rewarding career.
“The challenge for us now is to retain this talent. We are doing this by listening to feedback, strengthening our preceptorship programmes, and mentoring schemes, and taking forward ideas from our staff to ensure they feel a valued part of CUH.
“Today was also an opportunity for us to congratulate those who successfully completed their nursing associate degrees with the Open University, which is another step on the ladder towards becoming a fully registered nurse.”