Nursing has always been a part of my life, starting from when I was a baby, just 6 weeks old, when I had meningitis. My family always used to say how good the care was from the nurses and the hospital. Having that care, and hearing about the way they looked after my family, at their most vulnerable time, was something that made me want to do the same in my career.
I originally considered applying to Birmingham as it is only an hour and a half away from my home in Manchester and the University was ranked highly. I attended an Open Day and instantly liked the overall feel of campus. I also got to meet Nursing academics and lecturers, one of whom turned out to be my personal tutor, which gave me a good feel to the programme itself as well as a supportive and friendly environment to study in. I thought having the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on-site, as well as the Birmingham Children’s Hospital just a short journey away in the city centre, provided great placement opportunities. This is definitely one thing to consider when applying to University as at Birmingham, your placements are never more than 5 miles away, and that's a massive thing. I didn't appreciate that at all until I started my placements as I was able to have time to socialise after a long day on the wards.
I never explored the city of Birmingham before starting my degree, but having studied and lived in the city, I really liked that you have access to everything you need in one place. Birmingham is also a very diverse city which is what I learnt when I was training. Having exposure to a very multicultural city, looking after children and families from a diverse population, was a great learning experience.
I loved my first placement; it was Adult Renal at the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital. I literally just shadowed for the first day. I was 18, I didn't have any previous hospital experience or anything like that. It was a brand-new experience, I didn't even know how to wash or feed a patient! In the QE, there is one Health Care Assistant for every nurse and I remember a Band 6 telling me that before you can even begin to think about nursing, you have to learn basic skills from the Health Care Assistant. I think I got really lucky with my placement providers as everyone was so supportive and the Health Care assistants took me under their wing.
For the first six weeks, I just learned from them and as my confidence grew, I was able to do more hands-on things with my mentor, who was amazing. My advice would be to work with the Health Care Assistants, let them support you, because they know exactly what it's like and the skills you learn are fundamental for future practice.
Once qualified I then went to work in the Birmingham Children’s Hospital on ward 15, which is General Paediatric, but specializes in respiratory. We would get children with Cystic Fibrosis who would come in every 3 months for routine IV antibiotics, similarly we would look after children with bronchiectasis and asthma. I picked this ward as it is what I wanted to specialise in, and I really liked looking after families and getting to know them. I have now moved back home and am working in a new job in the intensive care and high dependency unit at Manchester Children's.
“I really enjoy nursing! It is hard and there are days where you think, ‘why have I done this’ but the job is so rewarding especially when you get parent and patient feedback and you know you made a huge difference that day. You've done something that has changed someone’s life and that's when it makes it all worthwhile.”
One piece of advice I would give to anyone wanting to study and pursue a career in Nursing is to anticipate and prepare, as nursing is a tough degree. But don't let that stop you really enjoying your unique university experience. You will have those days where you can't go out or you’ve had a rubbish day on placement which can be quite frustrating, but still try to enjoy the experience. I had the best three years at Birmingham and I am still best friends with the girls that I met on my course. I just think if you put everything into it, you're going to get so much out of it. Just go with it, prepare for the hard days but make sure you still have a great time as it will all be worth it in the end!