<karen_mcdonald_nescol_ahp_tutor.jpg> Karen McDonald, Course tutor at North East Scotland College, talks about the success of the new SWAP Access to Allied Health Professions programme.

It is a great honour to be part of the teaching team for the SWAP AHP’s group since this course was introduced to NESCol in 2022 and has strengthened the pathways of access into courses such as Midwifery, Paramedic Practice, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.  My experiences are that the students are immensely motivated and driven to achieve their healthcare career aspirations and recognise the benefits the SWAP AHP course can provide them with when progressing onto university.  The course includes many diverse and complex subjects that the students have to quickly become accustomed to however this challenge has been enthusiastically embraced and the group bring with them a positive, hardworking ethic to their studies. It is also lovely to observe how the group support one another in their learning journey and the strong peer friendships that have developed along the way.  Many individuals of the group bring with them some fantastic diverse work experiences which they have shared in class to benefit the learning of others and helps to create a supportive and inclusive learning environment.  As the Academic Tutor to the group, it is a privilege to have played a small role in supporting the individual students with their progression onto university and into their chosen AHP role. 

Lesley Dunbar, SWAP East Director, commented: “This exciting new pathway into the allied health profession degrees has opened doors that previously didn’t exist for adult returners living in the Grampian, Angus and Highlands area. Made possible by the support and partnership working from Robert Gordon University, NESCol, NHS Grampian and SWAP, last year was the 1st intake of students and from the 26 who started in 2022, 21 successfully completed the programme. Every one of these students achieved the grades required & started at university last year. This is a fantastic achievement and it is testament to the hard work and dedication of the students and of Karen and other tutors at NESCol that these students are now at university and working towards their degree qualification to become AHP practitioners.”

Donna, one of last year’s students who is now studying Midwifery at Robert Gordon University, really enjoyed the programme:

“As a mature student returning to education after 20 years, I was feeling apprehensive. This SWAP course was ideal as an introduction back to education, the course content has really helped me gain foundational knowledge and made the transition to university a little easier. There was so much advice provided with personal statement writing, the UCAS application and general reassurance during the whole process. I enrolled onto the course as I didn't have the qualifications to apply to university. I would recommend SWAP courses to any person looking to return to education, the support you receive is valuable in achieving your goals.”

Some of this year’s students also gave SWAP their thoughts on their learning journey so far:

“At first I was apprehensive about going back to learning, with being older I wasn't sure how I'd manage. However, being on the swap course has really increased my confidence that I can go into further education. For anyone looking to do a swap course, I'd highly recommend it. The support is second to none. I'm so happy that I did the course.” Wendy (SWAP Access to AHP student at NESCol).

“After a long break, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to study in the SWAP Health Allied Professions group, finding the challenging yet rewarding classes essential for paving my way towards higher education at university and my dream of becoming a paramedic. The journey has expanded my knowledge, sharpened my academic skills, and instilled a sense of fulfilment in pursuing my aspirations. Despite the tough and demanding nature of the coursework, the dedication and hard work invested will bring me closer to realizing my long-awaited goals.” Aurelija (SWAP Access to AHP student at NESCol).

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. It has set me up so well for university level study and I'm now going to university, confident and prepared. Such a great course!” Rebecca (SWAP Access to AHP student at NESCol).
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