Cherish Otoo, 29, who has two daughters Ava, eight and Isabella, six, said: “It was very exciting. I was nominated by the lead nurse for policy who works for Health Education Englandas I was part of the first cohort of degree apprentices.
“I got my invitation to Downing Street and it was actually the first time I’d been to London! When I got there I was told I was a star guest and I would be meeting with the Prime Minister.
“She was lovely, and said she was thankful I had travelled down to London to be there. She showed a keen interest in the apprentice scheme .”
Cherish said that University of Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust have taken a stance to ‘grow their own nurses’ due to the distinct shortage of nurses in the country.
Cherish started working in an administrative role at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in 2015 and worked in the waiting list office for all surgery for ENT and Maxillofacial patients.
She said: “I found myself being really strong willed for my patients and it was then other people would say to me ‘have you ever thought of going into nursing?’
“I had no clinical skills though. But people told me its the value within a nurse, not within a clinical setting.”
Cherish was interviewed for the apprenticeship scheme and was the only person from an administrative background to be accepted.
She said: “I’m a single mum with two children and I never would have had the chance to study at university and work, earn whilst I was learning.
“I joined the scheme in February and I’m now on ward 35 trauma and orthopaedic. I do 30 hours with the trust on the ward and one day at the University of Cumbria. At the end of the scheme I get the same qualification as a nurse training through the traditional route.It’s a different pathway in but you get the same nurse at the end.”
Cherish, who is an ambassador for local charity One Woman at a Time, set up by retired midwife Jean Anderson, said: ““My ward manager has helped me get my work home balance right and my family have been very supportive.
“My mum must have rung round everyone she knew telling them I was going to Downing Street!”
“My daughters Ava and Isabella are thrilled to bits! They didn’t really understand but I took them into university with me and we went into the library, and I also took them into hospital , so they understand I’m training to be a nurse.
“I’ve been going around and speaking to other people in the NHS about the scheme and hoping that aspiring nurses who are unable to gom through the traditional route of nursing will think about an apprenticeship and take that leap.
“My training will be finished in four years, in 2022 but I’m sure it will fly by.
“I’m so pleased and overwhelmed but on the other hand I’ve worked really hard to get onto the apprenticeship scheme.
“I’m very proud of myself. I’ve found my place in life.”