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Making the leap from an established career in to full-time study is understandably nerve-wracking but, this time last year, that’s exactly what two of our current Children’s Nursing students decided to do! We caught up with Rachel and Lauren as they come to the end of their first year of study to find out how it’s gone so far, and what advice they would give to other people who are considering doing the same.

Rachel had previously worked for seven years as a Teaching Assistant and she had prepared herself for the challenge of returning to full-time education, but nothing could have prepared her for the additional challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the excellent support provided by the University has meant that Rachel never felt like she had to deal with anything alone. She told us: “The support from the University of Chester and the honest and consistent communication between staff and students, has made an extremely difficult situation much easier. At every step of the way we have had fantastic support from our module leaders and faculty staff who have made every effort to make themselves available for academic and personal support. As a student nurse it’s important to be adaptable and COVID-19 has challenged us all in more ways than one, but the flexible online learning provided has been nothing short of fantastic! Students have had the opportunity to enrol as health care assistants and step up to other volunteer roles to help with the pandemic, without missing out on any learning. When I decided to go back into education to study Children’s Nursing, it was important to me that the university I chose not only offered excellent learning opportunities, but also made my welfare and mental health a priority during my time at university. The University of Chester has exceeded my expectations in this respect!”  

Lauren had very little experience of working in healthcare when she started her course last September and told us that she was very nervous when she walked through the doors on her first day. However, the induction process quickly put her mind at ease: “From the very first day of induction, my worries vanished. All the staff were so accommodating, welcoming and happy to answer any questions I had. I realised that everyone was in the same boat and I quickly made friends as we were introduced to everything from the ground rules to uniform fitting, and everything in between!”

Our students spend the first few months learning the fundamentals of being a nurse and preparing for their first placement. Lauren’s first placement was in a hospital staffing and she was very pleased at what she managed to achieve there: “The staff were incredibly supportive; my practice assessors and supervisors helped me to gain a variety of fantastic experiences and knowledge.  The experience and knowledge you gain whilst on placement is second to none.”

Like Rachel, Lauren has nothing but praise for her tutors who reacted quickly to the changes made necessary by COVID-19: “COVID-19 may have changed the way we have been learning this year, but the University staff quickly adapted our timetable to maximise our learning opportunities in other areas. They made timely decisions on how we are going to move forward with our studies and kept us updated throughout. I know that many of us were very apprehensive about online lectures. However, after the first lecture all these worries disappeared. I have really enjoyed the flexibility of online lectures and it has not impeded on the module content or on my ability to ask questions. Although we are not attending lectures on campus, the support available has not been affected. Many students are also home-schooling children or are dealing with other competing priorities and I have seen how accommodating the lecturers have been to ensure that they are not disadvantaged and feel supported.”

As they approach the final weeks of their first year at the University of Chester, we asked Rachel and Lauren what they would say to others who are considering a career change, or a return to education after a long break. Lauren was in no doubt about how proud she is of the challenges she has overcome and the opportunities she has taken this year and her advice is simply: “The decision to become a nurse will be the best decision you ever make!”

Rachel also reflected on how much she has learned this year and told us that if she could go back and say one thing to herself a year ago, when she made the decision to accept her place at the University of Chester, it would simply be “You’re going to make yourself proud in more ways than you know, you’ve made the right choice.” 

Find out more about Children’s Nursing on our course page, and if you've been out of education for a while but are interested in attending university, visit our mature students information page

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