The moment I realised... I wanted to be a nurse

Student Antony Ewart shares how caring for those close to him gave him the drive and focus to pursue a career in nursing

An opportunity arose for me to take a huge step out of my comfort zone and change my life’s pathway.”

 

<p>Antony Ewart</p>

 

My biggest inspiration is my desire to help those who need it most during times when they are at their lowest. Being involved in the nursing process for both my parents when they passed from cancer was perhaps my biggest insight into the dedication health professionals put into caring for others. Shortly after this, I worked with a family whose child passed from sepsis. Their story and dedication to helping reduce the incidences of sepsis, together with my parents passing, became the catalyst that drove me to give back in any way I could. An opportunity then arose for me to take a huge step out of my comfort zone and change my life’s pathway. 
The course is amazingly well structured. Currently 50% is academic and 50% placement over the three or four years depending on whether you are doing BSc or MNurs respectively. Within the academic part, we have our skills sessions, which are a great fun and perfect to practice the proficiencies necessary to go into placement whilst in a safe environment. 
One of the most challenging moments came during my last placement in the emergency department. I was working with a patient who had begun to decline from their illness. It became apparent that they didn’t have long to live and appeared to not understand or react to anything we were saying. Knowing this, I could only comfort the patient whilst we waited for their family to arrive. Some time passed and I was coming the end of my shift. As hard as it was, I had to say goodbye and leave before the family arrived. This was a tough day. The lady passed shortly after I left but, thankfully, she got to see her family. I will never forget this moment and am honoured to have been able to offer what comfort I could. 
I grew up in South Africa and found schooling difficult. As such, I dropped out aged 16 with no qualifications. This meant I needed to gain GCSEs. So, in 2018, I embarked on a Nursing Access Course with Truro and Penwith College to gain Maths and English GCSEs. Whilst well structured, this placed immense pressure on me as I balanced family life with academia, but it was worth it. 
During this time, I made friendships with other applicants who remain an integral part of my life. As I went through the year, I began to find my flow and came out of college with GCSE and Access Course qualifications. This put me in a good place to apply for MNurs (Hons) Nursing (Adult Health and Child Health) in January 2019. 
The hardest part of the application was my personal statement. Trying to put so much of my passion into so few words was extremely difficult. With amazing help from my college professors, my application was accepted, and it was off to interview. The interview team helped relieve any pressure we were feeling and calmed the group to be ready. 
Part of our interview was to watch a video on an episode of nursing care and report our findings. The portrayal was terrible, and I couldn’t help but comment on how badly the nurse treated the child and the parent. I didn’t realise the person acting the part was interviewing me. We all burst out laughing, despite my blushing. 

The biggest community I have found is my cohort. 
Being male and a mature student, at first I feared how I would be accepted by a predominantly female group. Now, I would not dream of being without the amazing nursing students I am working with and who have accepted me as part of the team. Whether it is lunch in Drakes Café or an impromptu night out, we have a lot of fun. We are also a huge support network that in times of tears we can all talk and get through the problems together. I am sure many of us will remain friends for the rest of our lives. 
The Nursing Society is an amazing team who love creating parties and helping other students relax and have some down time, creating an environment where students can meet others from their course. 

<p>Antony Ewart</p>
By far my best memory comes from my first year. As students we get to spend more time with our patients than trained staff do, and this allows us to build better therapeutic relationships. 
I worked extensively with a patient who was living with an eating disorder. Initially the patient had communicated that they didn’t get on with males, but as circumstances had changed, I needed to sit with the patient for mealtimes. During these times we would chat about things that interested her and family matters and over time, conversations became easier. 
As with all students, feedback is a vital part of the process, and I knew the patient was going to be discharged so asked if she could fill in a form for me. The patient agreed and I left the form and envelope with her. 
I didn't read the feedback until I got home. When I opened the envelope, she had written very kind words in every box. I noticed some writing on the back and when I turned over, she had written me a letter thanking me for being so kind and changing her feeling towards males. 
Well, first, I cried as the letter was so lovely and then I thought how amazing it was that someone had taken the time to tell me I had helped them. I felt overwhelmingly humbled and privileged to work in a role where I could unknowingly change someone’s perspective on things, helping them to recover from their illness. 
As strange as it may sound, the more placements you become involved in as a nursing student, the more it opens your eyes to just how vast nursing is. From surgery to stopping-smoking services, the world as a budding health professional has so much to offer. 
I started off thinking I wanted to work in a GP surgery as a children’s nurse. However, I had such a great time in hospital placements that I really love the wards or Emergency Medicine. The two have different things to offer and being within a pandemic, each area is at maximum output. I have another year and a half to go so we will see. 
My advice to anyone thinking of studying to be a nurse is, firstly, buy a great pair of shoes. Doing a nursing degree is hard, and when you’re in placement, the wrong shoes can make your shift harder and give you sore, smelly feet. When you’re on campus, make sure you ask lots of questions. 
Talking to people in nursing is what it’s all about and seeking knowledge of your subject will stand you in good stead moving forward. Most importantly, be yourself and have fun. Yes, a nursing degree is hard and yes, you must be serious at times but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. 

MNurs (Hons) Nursing (Adult Health and Child Health)

Our four-year dual field course offers the opportunity for students to be recognised in two of the three fields of nursing we offer while achieving an undergraduate masters degree. 
 
As well as preparing students for a clinical role in a range of health care settings nationally or internationally, the course is an excellent choice for those considering a challenging and fast-tracked career in research and nurse education.

School of Nursing and Midwifery