Andrea and Zac Trewhela and family
Andrea and Zac Trewhela have a huge amount in common. Not only are they mother and son both working for the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPNT), but they graduated with nursing degree apprenticeships from the University of Plymouth on the same day. 
While there are obvious similarities, and a huge amount of pride, there are striking differences in their careers too.
Helping to inspire people into the profession, they share their stories and success, and crucially highlight that being a ‘nurse’ doesn’t just mean one thing.

Andrea’s story

When caring for her mum’s health issues, and with an auntie as a midwife, Andrea always knew she wanted to go into nursing.
“I thought a lack of a maths qualification might stop me,” she said. “But while volunteering in a care home to get hands-on experience, I did an access to nursing course and never looked back.”
Alongside raising three young children – including Zac – she completed A Level Human Biology, and realised community nursing was her passion. So that’s what she pursued in 2005 when she qualified, and jumped at the chance to do a District Nurse degree apprenticeship when it came around 15 years later.  
District nursing is a postgraduate qualification, validated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and enables those in the role to take on more responsibility such as non-medical prescribing and advanced clinical practice. 
Based in the community rather than a hospital setting, the University relaunched the programme as a degree apprenticeship in 2020 following a demand for the role across the South West.  Andrea said: 
“The course 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 she found out Zac was pursuing nursing too, she was delighted
“I’ve loved nursing and was pleased that Zac, who studied on the mental health pathway, was able to do it as a degree apprenticeship with the Trust too. When I found out Zac was going to be graduating on the same day, 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.
“We have quite different roles now which suit who we are, and I’d recommend to anyone considering nursing to explore the pathways available. After qualifying, community nursing is such a varied role to take on, doing all sorts even as far as chemotherapy care and palliative care too.”
Andrea and Zac Trewhela graduation
Going forward, Andrea is looking to explore a masters qualification with the University of Plymouth, incorporating research.
“I touched on it in the District Nurse Degree Apprenticeship, looking at voice recognition technology for improving our processes, and it’d be great to explore more. When you have the opportunity to step outside your day job it opens a whole new avenue. 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's story

The second of three children, Zac enjoyed being around people and considered healthcare as a career option after leaving school. But thinking of a more office-based future after good academic results, he initially moved to Southampton to pursue a qualification in accounting and finance. He said: 
“I tried to stick with it for a couple of years, but I knew it just wasn’t for me. I went back to the drawing board and had to have a rethink.” 
To earn some money and people-facing experience in the meantime after moving back to Truro, he volunteered in a care home, before being offered a part-time role there. Then the puzzle pieces started to fall into place. He said: 
“It was at the care home I realised that I loved working with older people. I found it particularly rewarding working with people with dementia, and I knew that this was something I wanted to pursue. I really felt like I was adding value, and that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning.”
He did an access course alongside his job and, when the opportunity to do a registered nurse degree apprenticeship in mental health nursing came up, he went for it.
Zac said: 
“I applied for the BSc with the University of Plymouth – perhaps a more traditional route – and achieved a place. But when the apprenticeship came up, it just felt like the right option for me, as having the support of the Trust and the University was brilliant. There are so many routes into nursing that I felt lucky to have the choice.
“While my mum did a different degree apprenticeship, it was nice to be able to ask her certain things given her wealth of experience.”
And he remembers when the graduation message came through.
“When I realised we’d be graduating on the same day, I was so happy. 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 fiancee, Charlie. It was amazing to watch mum graduate. We have very different roles and ambitions but nursing is so varied, so you can go for it whatever your background and whatever your aspirations.”
Zac Trewhela and Charlie
Zac Trewhela and fiancee, Charlie 
Zac is now working at Camborne and Redruth Community Hospital (Basset unit), as part of the dementia and older people’s mental health community team. He said: 
“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.

Exciting and rewarding career pathways

Working in collaboration with Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, we are delighted to have been able to support Zac and Andrea in their apprenticeship journey.

Being an apprentice can be an exciting and rewarding career pathway enabling individuals to start their career – such as Zac undertaking his registered nurse degree apprenticeship – as well as provide opportunities for career progression, as with Andrea.
We are proud of our apprenticeship provision offering the opportunity to study health apprenticeships from level 5 through to level 7 including the Nursing Associate and Advanced Clinical Practitioner apprenticeships, as well as a number of other apprenticeships across health.

Caroline JamisonCaroline Jamison
Associate Professor of Nursing (Education)


Faculty of Health

Exceptional clinical and academic learning, social engagement and research in medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology and health professions.
Group of young doctors and nurses walk through a hospital setting