Donna from Bury St Edmunds graduated with BSc (Hons) in Adult Nursing and started working at West Suffolk Hospital in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“Once I qualified in February 2020 I started working as a band 5 staff nurse for emergency surgery at West Suffolk Hospital. It was an extremely hard and stressful time as a newly qualified nurse. I managed this by reflection, keeping in contact with friends for support and reading books such as The Chimp Paradox and Atomic Habits. I really took control of my mental health through running and exercise and spent a lot of time reading up around common conditions that my ward dealt with to try and better my understanding and performance at work. I like to think of barriers as challenges, therefore I used the time throughout COVID-19 to really improve my learning so that I could apply it within my role. I applied for my dream job of diabetes specialist nurse, I did my dissertation on this subject, so it interests me a great deal and I got the job! I start in July and I cannot wait to expand the service and make diabetes super interesting for healthcare professionals and engage patients into wanting to manage their condition.”
“I worked as a manager for Greene King PLC before I started my degree. I had worked my way up since I joined the company when I was 23, I’m now 43. Once I got as high as manager there was two options for me- join another company and work my way up again only being in the same position as I was or study a trade such as nursing as I knew I wanted to work with people, where it opens up a whole range of opportunities for the sake of limited money and three hard years of study. I chose option two! No one in my family has got a degree. In school I was told I was never going to be clever enough to gain a degree. I taught myself to academically write, I planned my time and got my assignments done in time, every time with no extensions. I did the Great East Run, a half marathon, through the uni whilst working and studying and carried on training and running throughout.I am now starting an exciting role which at the beginning I could only have dreamt of getting. I was the one that had no time off in practice and attended every lecture as I knew it would make me a better nurse. I am not one to blow my own trumpet, but I am so proud of myself for everything I achieved in my three years and what I continue to achieve now!”
“People telling me I cannot do something or won’t make a success of myself, there is nothing better than proving your doubters wrong. When I was offered a place on the course back in 2016, I had to retake my maths and do functional skills. I went to Learn Direct in Ipswich, long story short the man there told me I needed to attend every day for a month to be able to do the qualifications. I would not take this, I wanted to do a degree and nursing! So I went to West Suffolk College, found a great lecturer that was running a course, spent evenings and weekends doing past papers and studying, got a super brainy friend to tutor me. I asked to be put in for the exam early as I needed to pass to get into the February intake for the degree. I took the exam and I passed!”
“This graduation event is more than celebrating my degree to me. It is showing my two boys that you should not listen to people and that if you want something to happen you need to work for it and persevere. I look back now at my three years of training and it was just the start of my learning. Every day now I reflect on what I have learnt, if mistakes are made, I will always ensure it never happens again and learn from it. Successes are mistakes revisited as the author James Clear said and that couldn’t be more true! I often beat myself up about why I didn’t train to do nursing when I was younger and the simple answer is that I didn’t have the confidence, was put down, didn’t want to put the work in. Everything I do I put 100% into, I can hold my head up high and put my hands in the air and say that every day I walk away after my shift I have given my patients my 100% everything and I will continue to do this until my final day of being a nurse.”
“The University of Suffolk is somewhere that believed in me and gave me the chance to better myself. It's a university that changed my life so that I can better others.”
My message to anyone wanting to be a nurse: believe in yourself but be prepared to work hard. Recognise and get the help you need from the academic lecturers, plan and manage your time well. In practice spread the sparkle! I always used to say this to myself when I was up against the less enthusiastic nursing staff, and also never stop asking questions!”