Stepping things up the second time around

Nursing graduate, Sarah Joliffe came to the University of Manchester after already sampling life as student in Leeds. The decision to undertake another degree in Manchester couldn’t have been an easy one, especially as the degree in question was in Nursing – a notoriously difficulty and challenging course.  Was it worth it? Find out below…

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When it came to university applications, I was keen to study nursing at Manchester as I knew that it was a reputable university, and wanted to ensure that I was getting the best nursing education. Little did I know, it would later be named in the top three universities for nursing in the world and 1st in the UK (QS university rankings 2018). I lived in Leeds at the time, and had the choice of some great nursing universities, but Manchester appealed to me, in part because of its reputation, and the city itself, which I’d always found fascinating.

The degree 

The nursing degree was difficult, but I think that any career which involves caring for other people should be challenging. I don’t think people always realise that student nurses are studying and working full time for the majority of the degree, which is a huge life commitment for three years!

The support that we were offered by faculty was second to none – I had a very difficult final year for personal reasons, and my academic advisor, Dr Jackie Cleator, was with me every step of the way and offered me guidance and support to get through. And like I said previously, despite being challenging, I knew I was getting a great education that would stay with me throughout my career.

I think the fact that i’d already been a student before and had therefore done the whole ‘student experience’ made it easier for me to get my head down, work hard and accept these challenges.

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The dissertation 

As nerdy as it may sound the highlight from my time at Manchester was getting 100% for my dissertation! My dissertation was on how effective smart phone apps are at helping people to lose weight, specifically, by increasing their physical activity.

I had previously completed a degree at The University of Leeds in New Media (a mix of website design, social media, animation and coding), and whilst I didn’t actually do anything with that degree, it has always been an interest of mine. It kind of made sense to combine the two passions, especially considering that in the UK, new technologies are definitely an underutilized resource in health care, but are such a huge part of everyday life.

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The awards

To my amazement, my dissertation ended up winning a couple of awards, with the most prestigious one being the European regional winner in Nursing, Midwifery and Ahp at the Global Undergraduate Awards.

I worked so hard on my dissertation and got a fantastic grade in uni, but to have that hard work recognised, not just at university, but internationally as well, made me so proud.

I also have to say, the massive support and encouragement that my tutors Dr Emma Stanmore and Siobhan O’Connor gave me throughout the writing of my dissertation was incredible. They also suggested that I should submit it to the awards as well – I don’t think i’d have done so well without their support and enthusiasm.

It was great to be invited to the awards and for the university to offer to fund my trip to Dublin. This allowed me to meet lots of like-minded peers from around the world, studying different topics, to discuss the big issues facing society today. I made lots of new contacts and came away inspired by all the interesting research being carried out in different fields.

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The job

I’m currently working as a staff nurse on a general surgical ward at Manchester University Foundation Trust Wythenshawe.

I’m not currently doing any research relating to my dissertation (smartphone apps and health), but it is always in the back of my mind to take my research further. Last year, headed by Siobhan O’Connor, myself and a team of other researchers published a systematic review looking at how social media is used in nursing and midwifery education.

At the minute I’m focusing on my career as a registered nurse, but research is definitely something I have a keen interest in, and who knows, I may be back in a few years carrying out a PhD!

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The future

I love my job, so I’m going to see where that takes me for the time being. There’s so many options to progress in this field or go back to university to do a PhD, which is what I love about nursing – I just need to find my niche.


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