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Posted on Jan 24 2022 by Fiona Bailey

A former construction worker has decided to transfer his skills from building houses to building better futures after retraining as a mental health nurse.

Simon Austin began his career as a builder, but after deciding to turn his hand to healthcare joined St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton in 2000 as a Healthcare Assistant.

Hoping to progress his career within the sector while working at the Northampton hospital he joined the St Andrew’s ASPIRE programme which offers many training opportunities. This allowed Simon, as a Healthcare Assistant, to train and became a mental health nurse.

The programme allows Healthcare Assistants to combine their learning and experience by jumping straight into the second year of the University of Northampton’s Mental Health Nursing degree – completing it in two years.

The programme is funded and supported by St Andrew’s, a huge benefit to those who might not be able to afford university otherwise.

Simon said: “I had been working since I was 16 and needed to earn a monthly salary. As an older adult I would not have been able to fund the course myself, so the financial support was a major factor for me in deciding to do the training. I could fit in paid shifts around university which really helped. The course developed my confidence and my experience and knowledge of working with people with different mental health conditions. I became better at my job and was able to help patients more effectively.”

Simon says that during the course he felt really supported by everyone around him, which was important as it was a big step for him to go to university as a mature student.

He added: “St Andrew’s is a wonderful place to work. It has excellent facilities and training opportunities to help people progress. Originally, I didn’t intend on becoming a qualified nurse, however, as I had done various training courses since working at St Andrew’s it built up my confidence academically and I decided to take the next step in my career.”

As well as encouraging professional development for qualified nurses, St Andrew’s also offers financially supported nursing scholarships to individuals who are passionate about a career in mental health nursing. These are offered on a unique three-and half-year scholarship programme.

They are aimed at 18–24-year-olds who have the drive to attend university, but not necessarily the support or financial means to do it. The programme combines hands-on experience at St Andrew’s, with academic learning and study at the University of Northampton, leading to a BSc (Hon’s) degree.

St Andrew’s is recruiting newly qualified and student nurses, through to senior mental health nurses and a clinical nurse lead role. For those at the start of their career, St Andrew’s offers the chance to join an expert multi-disciplinary team working and gain wide experience initially, before choosing an area to specialise in.

Female student/newly qualified nurse to work on DBT/low secure and psychiatric intensive care unit. The starting salary is £27,244 and the deadline for applications is 30 January 2022.

Student nurses/newly qualified nurses to work on the medium secure division. The starting salary is £27,244 salary, with an application deadline of 6 February 2022.

Senior mental health nurses for the child and adolescent mental health service. The starting salary is £35,500 and the application deadline is 30 January 2022.

Senior staff nurses for the medium secure division. The starting salary is £35,500 and the application deadlines 6 February 2022. 

Clinical nurse lead for the medium secure division to lead and work in collaboration with the multi-disciplinary team and deputise for the nurse manager as required. The salary is £37,375 to £38,900 and the application deadline is 30 January 2022.