* This is going to be the 1st in a mini series I've been wanting to write for a while now. I don't often bring my job into my blog but I'm so passionate about nursing and my career that I want to share my experiences and love as working in the healthcare sector. If my posts can encourage anyone of thinking of starting a nursing course then I'll be pleased*
Our NHS is in a sorry state at the moment isn't it. Gosh it makes me so sad hearing all the negativity surrounding it. We are incredibly lucky to have the NHS and more often than not people forget that we are getting free healthcare. People monopolise it, inappropriately use it and bad mouth it but my god you'd miss it if it was gone. It's all so glum, we never hear the good side of the NHS, and believe it or not there is a brighter side of it.....I promise. Amongst the darkness there is light and a damn hard working bunch of people that keep the NHS going.
This post is inspired by a recent thread I saw on the RCN (Royal College of Nursing) Facebook page with regards to the recent drop in university admissions to study nursing. You can read about here which gives you a bit more of an insight. It really deflates me to hear that not alot of people want to go on to study nursing, although I have to be honest I'm not overly surprised. The fairly recent change to a degree course from diploma and cutting the bursary is bound to have a big impact. Two huge factors that attract people to the course are now not available and will no doubt have a knock on effect in getting the numbers in.
When I applied to do my nursing in 2009 it was a very scary time, I was entering at a changing time within the healthcare sector, I was none the wiser really but knew I was in for the long haul. It was a tough course to get on then and I expect it's even harder now. When I applied I had to do an access course for my maths as my GCSE grade D (not afraid to admit it) was not enough to meet the required entry requirements (grade C and up), I did a Learn Direct course to gain an extra qualification to enable me to be able to apply. Once my application had been processed I was invited for a formal interview, then a group interview and literacy and numeracy assessments. It was stressful to say the least. I was over the moon to be accepted, it was like the making of me, the beginning of my new life.
Starting the course I was going on age 25, I was classed as a mature student which was totally bizarre because at the time I barely felt my life had started. I was very fortunate to be in receipt of a bursary and have tuition fees payed for. The bursary was not alot at just over £500 a month and if I'm being honest the lack of money over the duration of the course nearly broke myself and my husband. It was a shock to the system, I'd left a fairly well paid job and took a substantial pay cut but I was well aware of the challenges ahead and willing to take that risk. However, that being said having a non repayable bursary was fantastic, I had debts yes but these were so much less than if I was to have a loan to see me through 3 years.
The recent changes to the nursing course I feel are very obstructive to people like myself. I did not have the required qualifications to apply to a degree program and I definitely know I wouldn't have been able to afford to take a loan, we just wouldn't have been able to sustain our life knowing that we had a huge loan hanging over us.
My course was the hardest thing I have ever done. There were many a time I wanted to quit. There were times I loved it and times I hated it. Having been out of education for several years adapting to lectures, essays, placements and studying was tougher than I could have even imagined. My life became consumed with studying and juggling life and placements, it was tough, I mean extremely tough, I can't sugar coat it. Placements were incredibly hard in the sense that you don't really have much of a life for 5 weeks, it's intense and I had a mixture of some fab placements but some awful ones too and you kind of just have to take the rough with the smooth. I fell pregnant toward the end of my 2nd year, it was unplanned but a wonderful surprise, it definitely scuppered a few plans! I was so close to finishing the course when I went on maternity leave, I was blessed that I was still able to get my bursary as maternity pay and was fortunate that my university were fairly supportive.
Going back to the inspiration behind this posts, there were several comments on the RCN thread that really saddened me, however it's not just the online thread that brought it to my attention just how volatile the nursing career is but many of my colleagues often have expressed how worried and anxious they feel working within the healthcare sector and how nursing is not what is used to be. What concerns me more so with all this negativity is where does the future of nursing truly lie?
We are soon getting to the point that many of the older nurses will be getting ready to hang up their tunics and who do we have left to step into their shoes? With the recent university admissions dropping there is going to be a real lack of nursing students entering the sector and with the new nursing associate role that is up and running (which I am not going into!) will nursing lose the credit and respect that it once had. I wish they hadn't scrapped the diploma, it made the course so much more accessible for people to be able to get onto, it was the same course as the degree when I studied minus the dissertation, in my eyes I am still the same as the nurse that studied the degree, it makes no difference to the care or compassion that I provide in the day to day job.
I admit that I would never want to go back into hospital nursing, even from very early on within my course I knew that I was destined to be in the community/primary care sector it was my calling for sure and I am very happy that I made my choice. Having left the community to enter a practice was a good decision for me and a really learning curve but in a good way. It's really something to love the job that you're in and I really can say that I love what I do.
So for anyone who is thinking about entering healthcare or nursing then do it. Don't be disillusioned, if I can do it you can. If you think you have what it takes to make it then you will. Yes it isn't the best paid job and it is tough and I mean really tough but you learn to manage your emotions and develop coping strategies. You are constantly learning while questioning what you are doing and also being exposed to abuse, germs, ignorance and unhappiness.
I have a handful of other posts that I would like to share surrounding nursing so I do hope you've enjoyed a little insight into how my nursing career started!