The importance of clinical experience

This is Elliott's story

After graduating in BSc (Hons) Nursing (Child Health) in 2011, Elliott Tucker has gained a wide range of experience in different roles, both in London and in the South West, leading to him finding his specialism in emergency care. Elliott is now working in a Band 7 role in the emergency department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. 

Discover more below about Elliott's story, including the benefits of choosing Plymouth and the power of placements.

Gaining experience and finding a focus

“After I graduated I moved to London, where I was offered my first job as a staff nurse in a busy paediatric intensive care unit, which was the best thing I have done, as it gave me such invaluable experiences and training. The hospital was part of the London Trauma Network, which meant I was able to further develop my trauma care skills, especially in gang-related crime, such as shootings and stabbings, which definitely gets your adrenaline rushing. 

"Working within such a culturally diverse city gave me the opportunity to care for children and families from different cultures, with different religious views, furthering my understanding of the contrasting needs and expectations that come with patients from different demographics.

“However, after only four months, I relocated back to the South West due to my mum’s ill health. I was offered a band 5 staff nurse post working on the Children's Assessment Unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, which included a rotation to the emergency department, where I remained in a permanent position for two years.

"While working in this department I completed my mentorship qualification and realised that emergency care was the specialism that best suited my professional attributes and personality. 

“I enjoy the fast and ever-changing pace of work, needing to deal with everything from simple ailments to critically ill children, where the skill of managing difficult situations is needed. 

“From this post I was fortunate to progress into a band 6 post in the paediatric emergency department back in London. After 12 months within that role I received a further promotion to a band 6.2, becoming a Junior Charge Nurse – within this time I completed the Children’s Accident and Emergency course at Kings College London. 

“After 18 months in London I decided I wanted to travel and work in Australia. However, this trip was cut short, as I returned back to UK after four months due to my mum’s ill health worsening and now at the stage of ‘end of life’. To support myself while being at home I managed to obtain a band 5 staff nurse post in a local emergency department for five months, allowing me to care for my mum. After finishing this job I went travelling for a further three months. I have just recently started my current job as a Band 7 in the emergency department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital."

Choosing Plymouth

“I chose Plymouth because it was my home city and it is a great place to learn, work, live and socialise. It has great student nightlife and shopping, while also being so close to the countryside and beaches – it is Britain’s Ocean City, after all. Another big pull was my cousin already studying child health nursing and telling me how good and supportive the University was.

“Looking back at the course as a whole, it is one of the best I have seen! The large amount of placement time you receive is extremely advantageous, producing some of the best students I have worked with since working across the country in numerous hospitals.

“One of the most important aspects of the course was the course layout, with a 50/50 placement to classroom teaching ratio, which is a lot more than other universities. There were always a variety of placements throughout the three years exposing you to all the specialities. I found being hands on from the very beginning was great as that’s how I learn best, allowing you to develop skills from the word ‘go’, ensuring you are confident and competent in caring for children in an acute setting by the time you qualify. 

“Having such extensive clinical experience has been so invaluable. It provided me a solid platform of knowledge and skill set, allowing me to consolidate my learning while I was newly qualified. This has helped me continually better my professional development, allowing me to progress at the rate I have. The University encouraged students to ‘dream big’, having aspirations to work towards and the lecturers would always be there to support and aid your development to get you there – the careers advice and interview preparation from them was very useful; I found I was less nervous when going for my first ever nursing interview.

“I had an amazing time and met some great people and friends – there were many nights I was with them working in the library into the early hours of the morning. Achieving my goal of getting a first – the commitment, hard work, sweat and tears – finally knowing I had done it, is my favourite memory of studying at Plymouth, alongside walking across the graduation stage, ending with a high five and hug from Janet Kelsey, the course leader. The only thing I wish I had done differently was organising an elective placement, as I had friends go to places like Africa which sounded like such a great experience.

“I believe the high quality of teaching from lectures and mentors in placements have made me the nurse I am today. If you want a quality course that can make you the best nurse you can be, then this is the one for you."

Follow in Elliott's footsteps

Caring for children and young people with a wide range of needs is a challenging and fulfilling career. From newborns to adolescents and beyond, you’ll gain experience of supporting children and their families during periods of great change and stress. Early placement opportunities across the South West will develop your clinical and communication skills and your understanding of caring in hospital and community settings. You will graduate ready to start shaping the future of nursing.

Once graduated you are eligible to apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a 'Registered Nurse – Child Health. You’ll balance classroom learning with gaining experience in hospitals and communities, with equal weighting given to theory and practice. Your learning journey will take you through a variety of professional work with allied health professions and other fields of nursing.

Study BSc (Hons) Nursing (Child Health)