Having already completed a geography degree, Hugo felt he still needed direction, a career path that would help to focus his skills and ambitions, so he went back to university where, this time, he discovered his vocation. He now works as a children’s nurse in the Accident and Emergency Department at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
I’ve always had an interest in medicine, but didn’t quite know whether I wanted to follow it properly. This was inspired by granny being a nurse in accident and emergency, trauma and orthopaedics. I finally took my niggle for medicine seriously when I didn’t fall in love with possible career pathways having done internships such as surveying.
People had always commented that I worked well with children having done activities at school such as being sports leader and a voluntary teaching assistant in sixth form. I also had experience with complex needs children and adults through my voluntary experience at the Riding for the Disabled charity and was always keen to learn more. Therefore, I decided to follow the medical route and children’s nursing fitted the idea perfectly and I haven’t looked back since.
Location and placements
My first degree left me without any real aspirations or direction. Nursing, however, helped me realise there was a career out there I was destined for. The vocational course allowed me to have a set career I could go into with all the necessary skills to be competent, and with the knowledge that this career could be very varied and adaptable.
Plymouth is my local university and having already incurred the costs and experienced the benefits of being a student living away from home, this did play a part in my course selection. More importantly though, BSc (Hons) Nursing (Child Health) at Plymouth is very highly rated in the league tables. And the range of placements offered ensures that you gain sufficient experience and exposure to different roles, key when deciding which areas to go into, and pivotal in job interviews.
In fact the range of placements is crucial. I know that as first years, when you get put in a community placement it can seem uninspiring, but the skills and knowledge you gain from it are invaluable. Once you start working as a registered nurse and you become so much more grateful for the experiences that the course afforded you.
The placements allowed me to improve my nursing skills at an appropriate speed and level. They increased my skill and knowledge base due to the wide variety available. Finally, they allowed me to know exactly which area I wished to start out in providing comfort that I would be happy in my working in that area of nursing whilst also providing insights for the future.
Studying and working
Having already done a degree, I knew of the academic pressures, but the nursing course was just so different and can’t be compared.
The academic side of nursing is also so crucial now that the nurse’s role in healthcare is ever increasing and becoming more technically and intellectually challenging. For example, we need to have the pathophysiological knowledge behind bronchiolitis to have the ability to interpret blood gasses in a critical environment. It goes without saying that in an evidenced based practice environment it is essential to have the ability to study a newly released medical journal paper and be able to critically analyse it to ascertain whether it is appropriate to change our way of practice to reflect its findings.
The course and the lecturers provided excellent career preparation. The advantage to the students of tutors combining teaching with roles in multiple healthcare settings can’t be emphasised enough. They are up to date with the most current practice and evidence. As nursing is primarily evidence based practice, it is essential that students are being taught the most relevant, up to date theory.
When I finished my degree I chose a later start date to give myself a little bit of time to recharge my batteries. But since starting my career I am extremely happy with my location and where I have chosen to work. Every shift brings new challenges and learning opportunities. However, already being able to help and teach other student nurses is a huge motivational factor.
"Plymouth could not have prepared me better for life as Registered Nurse.
The lecturers know what it takes to become a nurse and they help you become the best newly qualified nurse you can be. They are at the forefront of nursing education fighting to change nursing education to constantly make it better in relation to NMC standards. They only ever want to help you, and improve your experience".
A supportive community
I was well supported during my studies at Plymouth making use of the learning development, PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Service) and counselling services.
The learning development service was second to none at helping me get the required support I needed for my dyslexia. This was especially important as the nursing course has a high content of academic work necessary to gain the required knowledge.
PALS…where do I honestly get started? This is possibly one the best parts of the course where students from further on in the course are able to pass on their experience and knowledge to students in the earlier years. I personally became a PALS lead and then a Senior PALS lead in my final year.