Jessica Cuerden - BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult Health)

Jessica's journey at the University of Plymouth Exeter School of Nursing

Name: Jessica Cuerden

Course: BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult Health)

Location: The Exeter School of Nursing

"I personally felt a smaller university life was better suited too. I am 39 years of age and not looking for the whole “uni experience”. That said, I have met some of the most amazing people who have truly inspired me and enriched my experience."

Being at Exeter meant life was well balanced because I didn’t have to travel to Plymouth. I live in Exeter and being a single mother with no family for support this has made a significant impact on balancing my time between studying, travelling and parenting. I also work so by reducing my travelling time I am able to work. I have car shared for most of the degree also, which is great on cost and the environment. There are local parking options and the public transport links are fantastic. The facilities have greatly improved since my first year with new learning facilities, computers, kitchens, lockers, quiet rooms alongside new class rooms and the all-important café. 

Studying at The Exeter School of Nursing

Focus on skills

I have learnt so many nursing skills such as ; A-E assessment, wound care, paperwork, end of life care, care in specialised area’s such as orthopaedics, elderly care, oncology and diabetes. I have also mastered the art of essay writing. A whole new area that has kept me awake at night for sure. This degree has embedded the relevance of academic work, research and what is reliable research. This is definitely something I will carry forward in my career.

I had orthopaedic admission and elderly care ward in am first year placement. I hadn’t had much experience of a ward prior to this, only clinic work. Getting to grips with admission paper work was challenging but essential. I also found confidence in my abilities to judge situations and trust myself to do the right thing. I had a safeguarding issue arise and I dealt with this myself. Elderly care is complex and challenging. So much to learn and I feel every first year should experience this area. I learnt a lot about conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke care along with a multitude of medications and the how important the multi-disciplinary teams are in maintaining a level of care and reaching set goals.

In my second year I had CCU, District nursing and surgical ward. Definitely the most challenging year out of the three. I learnt so much and things really began to fall in to place from the academic side to practical. CCU was fantastic and a place I can see myself working one day for sure. A superb and valuable placement for students. Very complex and so much to learn. District nursing opened my eyes to the strains of the NHS and patients who really need care in the community. Lots to learn, which I carried forward to my placement after this. Surgical ward was busy and challenging. I was definitely pushed to assert myself as a leader and manage patients and conditions on this ward. I really began to understand a deteriorating patient and the role of the nurse on this ward.

Third year began with a community hospital with the CLIPP system. I really found my confidence on this placement and really enjoyed the CLIPP system. Taking a real leadership role, managing both patients and other students was great. I really enjoyed supporting others and I learnt from them in the process. I enjoyed the different environment from the district hospital too clearly seeing the impact this has on patients and their recovery. I felt very much a part of the team and a respected member in the decision-making process for my patients. It was the first time I felt like an actual nurse not just a student.

Support at every stage

The lecturers are a huge support and have made all the difference in my learning. One in particular is very inspirational and I will carry much of her wisdom with me forever. They all have different ways in teaching and supporting and I feel the team may be small but it is so mighty. They know each of us and it makes a real impact to you. This degree has been the single most challenging three years of my life and on the days that are hard, several cups of coffee and a box of tissue hard, they show you why you turned up to learn. The majority of the mentors I have worked with on placement has been fantastic. Each offering their own style of practice as guidance. 

I have the most supportive personal tutor who has been there every step of the way throughout this degree and being a smaller establishment makes you feel like you belong.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying nursing, please visit our BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult Health) page. 

For more information about our range of health courses within the School of Nursing and Midwifery, please visit the school page.