Reflecting on the past 20 years makes me realise what an honour and a privilege it has been to be part of such an evolving profession. Starting out at the age of 17, I began my career journey working as a nursing auxiliary on a respiratory ward. From that day on I have strived to provide the highest possible standard of patient care.
Holding the hand of a dying woman at only 18 years old was a humbling experience and one that I will never forget. It was an experience that encouraged me to become a qualified nurse so that I could strive to make a difference.
On my career journey I have had the opportunity to work in Germany for the British Armed Forces providing 24-hour care to serving soldiers and their families. On my return to England, I got a job as a theatre support worker in a fast-paced environment providing optimal patient care. At this stage in my life my ambitions to go to university always seemed like a far-fetched dream. Finding myself a single mum juggling working shifts was extremely stressful at times, but through sheer determination and a passion to succeed I was able to move from working in theatre to gaining employment in intensive care, and later moving to oncology.
As a healthcare assistant, you have a great deal of admiration for the qualified staff and I often questioned my ability to undertake such a responsible position. I did not pursue my ambition any further until I began working in the community after meeting my husband and having my son. Moving to an area where I had no family close by, I felt I could not give up working within the healthcare environment; after all I thrived through helping others and I still aspired to go to university to complete my nurse training one day.
Working as a healthcare assistant as part of a district nursing team, providing care to housebound patients to enable them to live independently in their own homes was a life-changing opportunity. I had gained a vast range of knowledge and skills through the roles I had fulfilled. I was able to excel and use all these valuable skills to provide efficient patient care. It was through working with the district nursing team that I was reminded of holding the dying woman’s hand when I was 18 years old. The privilege of being part of a multidisciplinary team providing high standards of end-of-life care, to me, is the most rewarding and humbling. It was now time to make another lifechanging decision with the full support of my family and work colleagues. After successfully completing an access course I was offered a place at university. This was momentous, something I had almost given up hope of achieving.
The trials and tribulations of life have at times made me question my decision to fulfil my ambition to become a qualified nurse. Having only been at university for two months, the unexpected death of my grandmother was a devastating blow, but with the support of family, friends and university staff, I was able to carry on with my studies.
Achieving 85% in my first academic assignment confirmed my dedication to succeed. Being a full-time student and a mum was often hard to juggle, especially as my first clinical placement approached. Again, with the full support of family and friends, I was able to excel while on placement.
There were times when one of my children was ill and I had to carry on and leave them in childcare so as not to interfere with my studies. The guilt and anxiety this caused was overwhelming.
Completing my first 2 years of training was a proud moment. I had overcome a family bereavement and the diagnosis of health conditions in both my children, but despite this succeeded in attaining exceptional academic grades and excelled on clinical placement. I am proud of my achievements to date and have become a positive role model for my children. I hope that telling my story and giving an insight into some of the obstacles that you may need to overcome, will enable others to believe that they too can fulfil their life-long dreams and ambitions.
I will endeavour to keep you informed of my journey and how, despite the length of time that has passed, I am finally able to believe that I am becoming a nurse. I hope I can inspire readers to reach their full potential no matter what challenges they may face.
Third Year Nursing Student
Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield