Regardless of how old you are or how long you’ve been in your job for, making the decision to have a career change is a courageous one. This is especially the case when the career you want to pursue is in nursing. In addition to courage, you need to be dedicated, patient, willing to put others before yourself and a body clock that doesn’t mind changing on a daily basis. Catherine Bates decided that nursing was the career for her after working as Media Officer for a number of years. Let’s find out if it’s a decision that she’s come to regret…
I made the decision to go into nursing a little later in life, making a career change at 27 years old. Nursing wasn’t really on my radar when I was at school and I ended up studying English and Sociology at University before falling into a career in charity communications. I loved my job as a media officer at a fantastic charity but often felt quite removed from the work they were doing.
Although my previous career was not related to nursing, I’d always had an interest in science so luckily had an A-level in Biology and AS level in Chemistry alongside my degree. However, as it has been almost 10 years since I’d completed my A-levels; my first application to the University of Manchester was turned down. It was a bit of a knock to my confidence, but my dad convinced me that I shouldn’t give up.
Thankfully I was eventually offered a place, conditional on passing the Open University module. It was a bit touch-and-go as the module finished a matter of weeks before the start date of the nursing course, but the University were very accommodating and by September I had left work and was sitting in my first lecture.
I can’t think of anywhere I would rather train as an adult nurse than Manchester. I’m originally from a small town in Lincolnshire and had moved here for work a few years before deciding to go into nursing. I already loved Manchester but as soon as I started to research nurse training I realised that I couldn’t really be in a better place, with some of the best Universities for nursing on my doorstep. I opted for the University of Manchester because it was so well-regarded and has a real focus on evidence-based nursing.
It’s definitely the people of Manchester that have made my three years as a student nurse. From the incredible, talented and kind mentors I’ve had, to the good-humoured and often very understanding patients, who have taught me just as much about how to be a good nurse as anyone. I feel like I’ve got to know and love Manchester even more and plan to stay after I qualify. We train at world-leading hospitals across Manchester and in incredible community-based teams who deliver care in every part of the city, often in very challenging conditions.
There’s no doubt that nursing is a challenging degree and I think everyone on the course has to push to overcome various challenges on the way to registration. But on the flip side, this means that you have lots of really proud moments; from pinning on your badge and fob-watch on your first day of placement or passing an assignment to finally feeling confident enough to manage your own bay of patients.
I think one of my proudest moments was being given the opportunity to run my own clinics while on placement in a GP surgery, something I never thought I’d be able to do as a student. A memorable moment was when I carried out an asthma review with a patient who had been having fairly regular asthma exacerbations that were limiting his activities. We talked through his reluctance to use his preventer inhalers and he agreed to give them a try. He came back four weeks later and said his life had been transformed; that his symptoms had massively reduced and that he no longer felt anxious about leaving the house. As an asthma sufferer myself it felt fantastic to know that I’d played a part in improving his quality of life.
I’ve had an incredible range of placements across six different hospitals in Greater Manchester as well as various community settings. I started out on an elderly medical ward followed by placements on Ear, Nose and Throat outpatients, two surgical wards, a GP surgery, sexual health clinic, oncology ward and A&E. My current and final placement is with the district nurses where I’m getting fantastic exposure to delivering care in peoples’ own homes which requires a broad range of complex nursing skills.
In our second year we are given the opportunity to organise an elective placement with student nurses organising placement all over the UK and the world to explore areas of nursing they are most interested in. We are also encouraged to organise ‘spokes’ which are shifts in other placement areas to gain exposure to an even broader range of nursing and health services. I’ve spent time on a labour ward, in homelessness clinics, in theatre watching complex head and neck surgeries, in HIV clinics, intensive care and with various specialist nurses working in mental health, diabetes and critical care.
The professional relationships I’ve developed with my placement mentors has been one of my favourite aspects of my training and I’m incredibly grateful for all their help. Mentors are experienced nurses who have done additional training to support student nurses, guiding us through each placement by providing advice, overseeing our work and completing our assessment documentation. We are assigned a mentor in each placement area who help plan our objectives, highlight learning opportunities and provide invaluable feedback.
I feel incredibly proud to have studied at the University of Manchester and the world-leading health services here make it a brilliant place to train as a nurse. I can’t wait to start my career as a nurse in Manchester.