Adult Nursing with Megan

Adult Nursing student Megan Sutherland reflects on her passion for caring for others and how that lead her into the profession.

Why did you choose to study nursing?Adult Nursing student, Megan Sutherland

Throughout my school years I took part in various volunteering and work experience roles in the healthcare environment. I volunteered on an elderly ward at the Western General for a few years where I helped with mealtimes after school. I also spent a week on the intensive care unit at the Western General for work experience in fifth year. I always felt comfortable in a hospital environment and was fascinated by the different roles involved in holistic care. I briefly considered a career in medicine, but soon realised that this was not the route for me. In my final year of school, when it reached the time to apply to university, nobody ever spoke to me about a career in Nursing, and nobody in my family is a Nurse, so in a way, it never even crossed my mind as an option. I instead applied for Psychology and accepted a place at Edinburgh University.

I spent a year studying Psychology, making new friends, and getting used to living away from home. All the while, I knew something was wrong. I knew I didn’t want to study psychology and that I was heading down the wrong career path. This feeling grew and I became increasingly unhappy with my course. I think I always knew that I wanted to be a Nurse but didn’t fully realise until I had tried something else. Psychology was fascinating, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to work with people until after my degree. I eventually took a leap of faith and applied for Nursing after one year of my degree at Edinburgh University. I had my interview and was offered a place on the BN Adult Nursing course and the rest is history! 

What attracted you to Edinburgh Napier?

From my research, Edinburgh Napier was the stand-out candidate. I was so impressed with the state-of-the-art facilities in the simulation and clinical skills centre, and the course content fascinated me. Furthermore, the emphasis placed on the support available to nursing students proved to me that Edinburgh Napier recognises the importance of nurturing the future workforce of Nurses. I also loved the smaller size of the Sighthill campus and felt this would be easily navigable and ensure that I felt part of a community.

Arguably the most influential factor of making the move to Nursing and to Edinburgh Napier University for me, was the premise of spending 50% of your degree academically and 50% of your degree in practice. This is what I had been missing in my previous degree and the thought of getting to work with patients as early as a few months into my first year won me over completely.

Combining all of these factors, I felt comfortable and welcome at Edinburgh Napier University and could see myself successfully studying a degree in Nursing there. 

What have been the highlights of your course so far?

Nursing is not easy, it can be a tough job with some really difficult situations, a pandemic being a prime example! However, this is greatly outweighed by the fact that it is the most rewarding job in the world. I have had so many highlights over the years that it would be impossible to isolate just a few. The laughs I have shared with fellow students or staff members on placement, the days that have made me feel so proud to be a part of amazing teams and receiving good feedback for the work you do would be just naming a few.

Personally, there is no greater highlight than being able to go the extra mile for a patient. To be their advocate when they cannot be their own, to act purely in their best interests or even to simply make them smile at a time where they do not feel like smiling is the greatest privilege of this job.

Someone said to me on my first ever placement- “in three years’ time, you will be a completely different nurse to who you are today”- and they were right! One of my greatest highlights, or perhaps achievements, is looking back on how far I have come as a Nursing student, how much I have learned, and how much my practice has improved as a result. I am certain that any other Nursing student would tell you the same.

What challenges have you faced?

As I said before, Nursing wasn’t designed to be easy. When people are unwell, they tend to be at their worst and their most vulnerable and we, as Nurses, are responsible for managing this fragility- and that is no easy task!

Every shift you do will involve decision making or situations that you have never come across before. Sometimes making these decisions can be difficult, and the unfamiliar situations can be overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is that this will only shape you into a better, stronger, and more well-rounded nurse, who places the patient at the centre of everything they do.

I am asthmatic, so the biggest challenge for myself so far has been not being able to opt-in to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have found this really hard and very counterintuitive as it is in my nature to help wherever I can. Instead, I have had to find ways in which I can do my bit from home. For example, I am currently working for the NHS Test and Trace Programme and have used my time to focus on my coursework and enrich my academic Nursing knowledge. 
There are challenges in any job, and Nursing is no exception, but being able to show compassion and make a difference to people’s lives makes it all worth it. 

Do you have any advice for other students considering studying nursing?

Nursing requires a relatively high degree of self-sufficiency and proactiveness. Demonstrating these abilities well whilst on clinical placement will provide you with the key skills required for a future in Nursing. Having said this, your mentor and the surrounding team are there to ensure you have the help and support you need whilst you are still learning.

Seek out opportunities wherever you can- you will be surprised by the additional learning you could gain from simply just asking. I have asked my mentors many times to watch certain procedures or to practice something under their supervision and it has only improved my confidence and my skills.

Nursing, for me, is not just a job and not just a vocation but a calling and a way of life. If that resonates with you, then you are very likely to be heading down the right path!

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