Before deciding to pursue Nursing at the University of Cumbria, I worked customer service jobs knowing this wasn’t what I wanted to do. While in college, I was offered the opportunity to become a trainee youth worker. Through this, I worked with young people within an LGBT centre. Not only did I develop skills in advocating for people, but also learned that I wanted to work with children. Alongside this, I always knew I wanted to work in medicine as I've always liked to care for people.

 

My Desires:

I would be the first person in the family to go to university and achieve a higher education. So before even choosing the path, I knew I wanted to further my education, I chose Cumbria as it’s close to home, but also far enough for me to gain my independence. Coming to university has helped to develop my character, independence, and resilience. When deciding where to study I could have chosen between Carlisle or Lancaster. I settled in Lancaster as I am from Carlisle, and I wanted to experience that ‘uni life’. COVID disrupted this when I had to stay in my accommodation for the first year and a bit, as I started in 2020. Nevertheless, I would have still travelled away from home if I was to do this again.


Barriers:

I think the hardest thing I have overcome in my educational life was suffering a bad mental health episode while being in sixth form. During this time, I thought I wouldn’t have had the opportunity, because I had ruined my chance. However, this was not the case once I had recovered. I was able to go to college and get my access course to go to university. As much as I wish this didn’t happen, I will be forever grateful as it has helped to develop my emotional intelligence and my resilience, which really helps within a nursing course and career.

Another barrier I faced was the COVID pandemic. During the first year of the course, I really considered leaving University, as I was certain I wasn’t cut out for higher education. Luckily, I had a good support system from my friends, and I was able to hold on till my first placement, that’s when I realized that this is what I wanted to do. Children’s nursing is what I was meant to do. I guess this was my epiphany.

 

Placements:

Throughout the 3 years, I have had a variety of placements in a variety of areas, each with their own challenges and positives. I think the most fulfilling part of all the placements is having those moments with patients that you will never forget. Whether that be because it was a challenging situation, a traumatic experience, or a positive interaction; each will hold a place in your memory, and personally I have learned the most from those experiences. Placements really help not only to develop practical skills, but my confidence through the years has improved drastically, as well as other aspects that we are taught about within university but are hard to develop without that practical experience.

One of the most challenging days I faced while on placement was when two people sadly passed away on the same day due to cardiac arrests. This was a lot for me to cope with and those at the placement were so supportive and got in contact with the university and my personal tutor. Through this I was able to have a meeting with my PT and I was offered such great support both from my PT and the university's student services and counsellor, without this I think it would be difficult to learn from that situation and be able to process the events.

The advice I would give is to go into each placement as a learning experience. Even if you think it isn’t going to be beneficial, or it’s going to be ‘boring’, there is always something to take from that experience. And fundamentally, at the end of the day, a placement is what you make of it, so make sure you take all opportunities for learning and development.


The Course:

I think the hardest part of the course definitely must be the sheer level of academic work and reading; I don’t think there's anything that can prepare you for the jump in work – especially self-directed study and reading. However, the university has great resources to aid in this. Like the online library and Skills@cumbria, which have especially helped in the academic writing of assignments. The lecturers on the course are extremely friendly and helpful. Whenever I have an issue or a question, I know I can go to the lecturer whether they are the module lead or not, and even if they are a lecturer for a different field (nursing). Due to the general modules on the course, I feel that you definitely get the opportunity to get to know all the lecturers.

I think my favourite module must have been NURC5006 which is a child-specific module where you learn more in-depth information conditions that you will see within the field. As much as the other modules are helpful for learning and development, this one feels like ‘real nursing’ when you are learning about it. Even the assignment was good as it felt the most related to practice.

Advice for students, is to make the most of their in-classroom course experience and make sure you time manage; make time for all the reading and work! But also, don’t forget to make time for yourself. As a lot of the in-classroom work can feel very overwhelming, it would be easy to get lost in a rabbit hole, but taking that time allows you to come back to things with a clear head. I find I take more in, in this case.

 

The Plan:

My top tips for people going to university? Make the most of it. Take each learning opportunity as it comes. Get involved in things whether that be academic, on placement or extracurricular. As much as 3 years seems like a long time it has honestly flown by.

 

The Achievement:

Being at university has helped me develop a lot of skills both relating to practice and develop personal skills such as my confidence and resilience.

I think my favourite part of the course was my emergency department placement where I found the love for working within emergency care, and where I will hopefully go on to get a job at. I don’t currently have a job lined up but not long till I start applying for jobs which is an exciting feeling. 

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