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And thanks to the support he received from the University of Chester following a two-year gap in his studies, he’s more fired up than ever to help patients in need during these unprecedented times.

The 23-year-old, who hails from Southport, began his degree in Nursing in 2015 and fell in love with the city and the University.

He said: “When I first visited for an open day, I found the University staff to be warm and friendly. I immediately felt like I would fit in. I was thrilled when I passed my interview and was offered a conditional place on the course.”

However, Connor found managing academic studies alongside his nursing practice, while also working part-time and trying to see his family, to be a challenge and decided to take some time out.

During that two-year period, he became a theatre support worker at the Countess of Chester Hospital, gaining valuable knowledge and skills which focussed his mind on his return to studies.

Determined to achieve his goals, Connor is now so passionate about a career in nursing, he opted to undertake his clinical placements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was offered a position to work in the orthopaedic operating theatres.

He explained: “During the COVID-19 pandemic all student nurses were given the choice to opt-in or out of clinical placements. I, amongst many other University Nursing students, opted in.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there and the experience has been second to none. I have had the privilege of working with many talented professionals that have been able to support me to achieve my potential as I transition into a newly qualified staff nurse role.”

For Connor, the staff in the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care has been integral to his successful return to studies.

He said: “During my time at the University of Chester I’ve been well supported by all academic staff. Tina Roulston and Mike Bellis have particularly stood out to me, both going above and beyond to support me with my studies. They have always believed in me which has been truly inspiring.

“All the staff in the Acute Adult Care Department are regularly on hand to support students and to help them achieve the fullest of their potential.”

Tina Roulston, Deputy Programme Lead in Pre-Registration Nursing, praised Connor’s willingness to work on the front line during the pandemic and commended his professional behaviour.

She said: “On opting in to assist with the pandemic he was asked if he would help within the theatres themselves, assisting registered colleagues with setting up, the scrub role and as a runner.

“While a lot of routine surgery didn’t go ahead during this time there would still have been emergency surgery and the requirement to use this area for insertion of invasive monitoring equipment for COVID-19 patients.

“His willingness to step up and opt into the challenging environment of the operating theatres in the Countess of Chester during the pandemic demonstrated the professionalism, commitment and team player attitude I have come to expect from Connor.

“During his time at the University of Chester Connor has overcome significant challenges requiring interruption and recommencement of studies.

“His persistence, resilience and commitment to the nursing profession have been inspirational.”

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