In March of this year, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Prince of Wales Nursing Cadet Scheme was piloted in Scotland for the first time, giving Lowland Cadets an opportunity to build up a learning portfolio and carry out a learning placement in a local healthcare setting.
Inspired by the knowledge and opportunities available through such a scheme, one of the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAV) who helped launch the Scottish pilot has taken the exciting step of pursuing a career change from customer service to healthcare.
In a blog post featured on the Royal College of Nursing’s website, Cheryl Mulligan, a Detachment Commander, First Aid Training Officer and Medical Support Officer with Glasgow & Lanarkshire Battalion ACF, detailed how she was approached in the autumn of last year to support the launch of the Scottish pilot scheme.
Keen to bring fresh learning and career opportunities to the young people in her Battalion, Mulligan quickly set about co-ordinating weekend learning sessions, looking after course administration, delivering non-clinical sessions to the Cadets and offering them pastoral support during their placements.
It was after sitting in on an employability session delivered by NHS Lanarkshire’s Future Nurse & Midwifery Project Lead, Angela Cassells, that Mulligan was inspired to reflect on her own career in customer service and how she might instead apply her CFAV skills to helping others in the healthcare sector.
‘I reflected on how family members during hospital stays had seen nurses and healthcare support workers (HCSWs) as “making the difference”, but I had ruled out healthcare after leaving school as biology and I just do not get on,’ Mulligan wrote in her blog. ‘I hadn’t got the grades for nursing, so it was not an option for me and instead I went into a retail role where I’d been for the past nine years.
‘After feeling inspired by the Cadet program and the employability session, I started to look for roles on the NHS Scotland recruitment website. Filtering for HCSW roles I decided to apply for two roles, a school vaccinations role and a HCSW in the acute medical receiving unit. I was offered interviews for both roles and I used my notes from the employability session to help prepare.
‘So here I am, a life change in the making. I was eventually offered the second role, working on wards with patients who have had strokes, respiratory issues, minor head injuries and high dependency. I am so excited to be able to make a difference to people. My previous work in the customer services complaints team with a major retailer has given me resilience and developed my confidence no end. This and supporting the Nursing Cadet Scheme made me realise I wanted to be the person making the difference to patients in a clinical setting.
‘I can see now there is a career pathway for me and I have proved to myself I can achieve my dreams.’
The skills and qualities gained through working as an adult volunteer with the Cadets are not only numerous but highly transferable into the professional world. CFAVs are known for their leadership, resilience, problem-solving and reliability, among many other valuable traits. They are an asset not just to their Cadet units, but to their employers and the wider community.
You can also find out more about how the pilot scheme helped the Cadets who took part by watching the video below.