Luke explains how the RCN Prince of Wales nursing cadet scheme has inspired him to pursue a career in mental health nursing

Why this scheme?

I entered a first aid competition in army cadets which got me interested in health care, nursing, and patient care. I thought this was a great opportunity to find out more and get practical experience.

Luke with Donna Kinnair

Is being a nursing cadet a full-time role?

No. I still go to school. I’m in my final year (upper sixth) and am studying health and social care, 3D design and drama – through the Welsh Baccalaureate scheme. 

I also still attend cadet meetings twice a week where, as a member of the senior section, holding the rank of sergeant major, I lead meetings and help younger cadets develop their skills.

What have you covered on the nursing cadet scheme so far?

Since last March, when I started, I’ve learned about manual handling, infection control, communications, leadership and teamworking. My clinical placements have shown me the importance of being friendly but professional.

How’s the course helped you make career choices?

I had to read about roles as part of my coursework so that’s helped me understand what’s out there and the kind of role I want to do. Next year I want to go to Cardiff University to train to be a mental health nurse. 

I really like the idea of working with patients to help them overcome their mental health problems. I feel this course has given me a really good foundation for the rest of my nursing studies and career.

This course has given me a really good foundation for the rest of my nursing studies

What kind of reaction have you had from staff and patients?

Very positive. They see the red T-shirt I wear and like the fact that the younger generation are interested in this kind of work.

What’s the main thing you’ve learned?

I’ve developed a respect for everyone working in health care. I can see how hard they all work.

Would you recommend the course to other cadets?

Absolutely. The RCN provides such a welcoming environment and you are treated with respect. I tell others to give it a chance because it’s an opportunity to develop your knowledge and find out which way you want to take your career in health care.

How does the scheme work?

The RCN and army cadet instructors work together to give young members of uniformed organisations an introduction to potential careers in nursing and other health care professions.

Supported by HRH The Prince of Wales, it aims to develop and prepare them for life and to support them towards employment in nursing.

The scheme involves 105 hours of guided experiential learning. This includes learning modules and a clinical observational placement.

At the end of the scheme cadets submit a portfolio of reflection and are awarded a completion certificate. They’re then supported to take decisions on next steps, which can include a level 2 or 3 related diploma.

The pilot is currently running in Wales in conjunction with the Army Cadet Force Wales. As part of this pilot, army cadets in Wales are offered the guarantee of an interview to be a bank health care support worker.

A second pilot is currently being planned in Wales and discussions are underway for a wider UK rollout. Find out more

Interview by Sharon Palfrey. Pictures by Steve Baker

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