A Cornish mother and son were celebrating after graduating on the same day.

Andrea and Zac Trewhela have both undertaken courses at the University of Plymouth through Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s apprenticeship programme.

Andrea has worked as a community nurse for several years and has now achieved the Masters level qualification as a district nurse.  

Zac has just completed his three-year registered nurse (mental health) degree apprenticeship and is now working for the trust as a mental health nurse. He is based at Camborne and Redruth Community Hospital (Basset Unit), where he is part of the dementia and older people’s mental health community team.   

“I felt really proud when I found out Zac was going to be graduating on the same day,” said Andrea. “I thought I am not going to get that opportunity again. I just wanted to be there for him, and it was really lovely to see him graduate. I had that proud mum moment when I watched him walk across the stage.  

“The apprenticeship was amazing. It was very different, because you have all your apprenticeship standards to meet alongside the educational modules side of the course. There are off the job hours you must complete and there is an option to do a placement in the last year.   

“When you have the opportunity to step outside of your day job it opens a whole new avenue. It has re-enlightened my interest in research and from my presentation in the second year I am following that on in the workplace as an actual project trial. I am now thinking about doing the research module to take it even further. You never stop learning and it has been a fabulous course for me.”  

Zac said: “It was a proud day not just for myself, but also getting that opportunity to share the experience with my mum. My dad was there as well, and my nan, as well as my fiancé, Charlie. It was really special.  

“The team I am in are very supportive. They are easy to talk to if I have any questions. From the beginning my team manager set out the role and that has allowed me not to feel overwhelmed with the tasks I am doing. I could not have asked for a much better start with the team.”  

Becky McSorley, lead practice educator, said: “It has been a real privilege to have been involved in their academic journeys and they both richly deserve their success.  

“I am so pleased that our apprenticeship offering has enabled Zac and Andrea, and a further 150 other staff, to achieve a range of qualifications to support their career progression as well as enhance our service delivery.   

“We currently have 196 staff on their apprenticeship pathways with more to start on October cohorts. They are a great way to enable our current staff to achieve career focused and employer developed qualifications linked to their job roles, as well as attracting new staff into the organisation with career development pathways.”   

Having previously graduated to become a community nurse in 2005, Andrea enrolled in the programme to complete her Masters as a district nurse.  

Becky explains: “This is a two-year programme. It covers key aspects such as advanced case management for people with highly complex, unpredictable needs. It also covers holistic assessments and diagnostic decisions, as well as leading a team to manage complex, dynamic, and unpredictable caseloads. All using the most up to date research and evidence-based practice.   

“It is a very in-depth and complex course with a high level of study requirements.

“Andrea has worked extremely hard to achieve the qualification, as have all our graduates.”  

Zac spent two years in Southampton studying accountancy and finance, before deciding on a new career path in mental health.  

Becky said: “During his course I was his line manager. I was involved in his regular reviews, and it has been a real joy to watch him develop as a competent and confident professional who will provide fantastic care and compassion to our service users.”