Anna Palombo from Bury St Edmunds graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Adult Nursing. Anna now works at West Suffolk Hospital on a stroke ward.
When Anna first had the opportunity to nurse cancer patients in the pandemic, she was naturally concerned for her family. Though free nursing accommodation was offered, Anna was needed at home and realised the transition between home and hospital needed careful management, “I’d come in and go straight upstairs and shower, having already changed my clothes at work, I needed to get everything into the washing machine immediately. I’d never forgive myself if something happened to my family.”
Anna knew she had to look after herself and her patients, balancing their care and maintaining distance to manage the COVID-19 risk. “It was really hard breaking bad news to patients and family wearing full PPE, they can’t see your expressions, you can’t hold a hand and their family can’t be with them, you are supportive and it takes a toll personally, but I couldn’t dwell on it… the doctor has to move on, it’s the nurse who’s there all the time.”
Reflecting on nursing as a career, she feels it was the right choice for her. The 12.5 hour shifts are challenging but she knew what she wanted and worked hard to get there. As a mature student, only when Anna had her Maths GCSE and A Levels, could she begin her nursing degree at the University of Suffolk. “It has been hard sometimes as I hadn’t studied since school and with children it can be difficult finding time.” But her reward came in seeing patients improve and she knew she made a difference. “I appreciated the support I found at Suffolk, staff helped me to balance study and home life. The placements are a great experience and I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie. I think because I was a bit older, I was happy to speak up and ask questions when learning. I became a Course Rep and people came to me for advice. I felt even better for helping my fellow nursing students.”
“For anyone wanting to take up nursing, I would say do it - no matter what your age. The support and experience is excellent.”