Nursing students have been welcomed at Aberystwyth University for the first time this week on a course that offers the opportunity to study in Welsh.
The development has been hailed as a major boost for the health service, especially in the mid Wales region.
“These nursing students will be equipped with skills and experience to meet the needs of rural populations”
Health Education and Improvement Wales awarded a contract to Aberystwyth University to train both adult and mental health nurses.
The new students began their studies on Monday 5 September and have the opportunity to study up to half of the programme through the medium of Welsh.
This comes after the Welsh Government unveiled its new five-year plan to help ensure that everyone who wants to can receive care in the Welsh language.
As part of the plan, it is recommended that all staff across the health and social care sectors should have “courtesy level” Welsh by 2027.
Aberystwyth University vice-chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure said it was “wonderful” to welcome the first cohort of nursing students to the university.
She said: “This is a boost for our NHS; benefitting the recruitment and retention of nurses both locally and regionally.
“It also has the potential to inspire new models of healthcare delivery which will be of benefit to everyone.
“Our plans will also make an important contribution to enhancing mental health and Welsh-medium provision locally and beyond.”
Nursing education at the university has been developed with the support of a number of partners, including Hywel Dda, Betsi Cadwaladr and Powys local health boards, as well as service users and carers.
Chris Jones, chair of Health Education and Improvement Wales, said: “The development and introduction of this programme with the university and NHS Wales has been a significant achievement, reflecting the importance of widening access and delivering high quality healthcare education in communities across Wales.
“These nursing students will be equipped with skills and experience to meet the needs of rural populations; deliver safe, effective and quality care; and enable them to embark on successful and fulfilling career opportunities here in Wales.”