2023 marked the beginning of the Scottish pilot of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Prince of Wales Nursing Cadet Scheme. Currently running in the Glasgow and Lanarkshire Battalion and Angus and Dundee Battalion, the scheme seeks to encourage young people into a career in nursing.
Launched by the RCN, the scheme has been supported by His Majesty The King, formerly The Prince of Wales, since its conception in 2019. The programme has already seen great success in England and Wales.
By taking part in the scheme Cadets complete an assortment of learning modules and undergo a clinical placement within a local healthcare setting. If the Cadets successfully submit their learning portfolio, they gain a recognised certificate from the RCN.
This weekend Lowland RFCA had the opportunity to meet with Cadets, Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and a NHS Lanarkshire representative, all of whom are currently taking part in the scheme at the Glasgow and Lanarkshire Cadet Training Centre (CTC).
When asked about the scheme Lance Corporal Wright of 1 Platoon RSB Strathaven said: ‘The nursing course… involves a lot of theory and really good practical work. You get to work with people that you don’t normally get to work with or know very well. It gives you lots of opportunities.’
Corporal Wallace, from Glasgow and Lanarkshire Pipes and Drums, was equally enthusiastic about the course, exclaiming: ‘I think the highlight of the course is getting to learn about what it would be like to have a career in the health sector, and how you get to have a placement and put your skills into practise.’
Hoping for a future as a healthcare professional, Corporal Wallace went on to say: ‘I’m still in school but I’ve applied for Paramedic Science at university… I think this course will really help me with this application. It sets you apart from other people as not a lot of people have done what we’ve done. As a Cadet I’ve gained First Aid qualifications and I’ve taken part in this course.’
Whilst the course is primarily aimed at Cadets, Cadet Force Adult Volunteers were also invited to take part. Staff Instructor (SI) Ferry, a CFAV with Glasgow and Lanarkshire Pipes and Drums, is currently at college and thinking seriously about his future.
SI Ferry said: ‘The Nursing Cadet Scheme is a fantastic opportunity… It gives Cadets and adults the opportunity to expand into the healthcare sector. Working alongside the NHS, we get hands-on experience by going on placement.’
When asked what had surprised him most about the course, SI Ferry responded: ‘The thing that has surprised me most about the course is simply how good it is… this course is giving me real life opportunities.’ Impressed by the practical experiences to be gained on the course, SI Ferry went on to say: ‘The opportunity that this course brings is amazing, it’s simply amazing.’
Joining the Cadets and CFAVs at the CTC was Angela Cassells, a Project Lead with NHS Lanarkshire’s Practice Development Centre. Cassells, a Nurse and Midwife, said: ‘I’m the project lead for this first cohort of Cadets in Scotland… I’m helping to prepare the Cadets for when they come into NHS Lanarkshire on their placements.
‘I’m particularly excited because I think it’s a good opportunity to work with this youth organisation and to expose the Cadets to a career in the NHS.’
Commenting on the suitability of Cadets to a healthcare profession, Cassells remarked: ‘Cadets would be particularly good in a healthcare setting because they are very compassionate and caring. I’ve spent two weekends with them, delivering the programme alongside the RCN and Cadet representatives. I’ve noticed how keen the Cadets are, they’re really engaged in the whole process! It’s a lot of hard work for them but they’ve taken it on board and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.’
Unique opportunities like these highlight the ways in which the Cadet programme prepares young people for the world of work. Each member of this cohort will have had the opportunity to gain practical skills, knowledge, placement experience, and a certificate; all of which will help them to stand out against the crowd when it comes to applying for courses or jobs.