Adult Nursing student Nicole Clarke on how work placements have cemented her career choice.
What first got you interested in Nursing?
I kind of had a lot of issues deciding what I wanted to do. I changed my mind so many times - I went from wanting to be an engineer, to doing business, and then I got some experience working as a care assistant in a nursing home.
I found I liked looking after people and getting to know them. From there, I started thinking about doing Nursing and after a bit of research set my mind to it. I decided that this was what I was going to do.
Why did Adult Nursing appeal to you?
I’ve worked with children who have learning disabilities or mental health issues before and, although I really enjoyed that work, I didn’t think there would be as many career options as with Adult.
Adult Nursing is really versatile and it just felt like there were more opportunities for me in that field.
How did you decide on studying in Edinburgh?
I was always very much set on leaving home for university. I didn’t think studying in Belfast or Ulster was going to gain me anything as a person or in my career. You’re very much there Monday to Friday and then go home at the weekends so you don’t really get the independence of having to do everything yourself.
I was talking to someone who had just been to university and they told me that Edinburgh is like a Scottish version of Dublin. It drew me in as a sort of home from home and when I came over for my interview, even though I was only here for a day, I thought I could see myself living here.
What was the application and interview process like?
It was really easy to get information on the website. There’s videos about accommodation and it all seemed laid out very simply, which made things much easier and a lot less stressful.
I actually really enjoyed my interview, which seems weird to say. It was a group scenario and it just made it so much easier, being in with people who were in the same state of mind that I was.
There were also so many people around during the day, telling you about the University, leading tours, and just doing different things to make you feel at ease, even though it was a very important day.
Did you live in student accommodation?
I went into student halls on Slateford Road in first year, as did the majority of the new Nursing cohort. You have a longer than normal tenancy which means you stay there for the whole year and don’t have to worry about finding somewhere else during your summer placement.
It also made it really easy to make friends because you were in halls with people who were going through the same struggles at the same time as you were. Everyone understood that if you were on placement, you can’t really go out as much, and to make the most of it when you’re not on placement.
Nursing is so intensive and it made for a good support system in first year.
Have you had a favourite placement?
I’ve been really lucky to have a wide variety of placement experience and it’s helped me develop loads of skills. My favourite was definitely with the intensive care unit (ICU) in second year.
That, I think, tested me the most as a student. You’re given a lot of support but you still have to be mentally and emotionally strong to deal with some of the stories you hear, to treat the patients under your care, and you’re just handling stuff you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
Even though my time there was probably the toughest weeks of the course, it was really enjoyable. The staff push your limits so you can earn more and gain something from the experience, but they also don’t make you do anything you’re not comfortable with.
What has been the highlight of the Adult Nursing course for you?
In third year, everything has kind of clicked into place. I’ve been doing placements on an orthopaedic ward and, when the first year students came in a week after I started, I was able to tell them how to do different observations and tests.
It’s just small things that you never really think about but realising you can help someone who’s more of a junior than you makes you think ‘yeah, I think I can do this now’.
Who would you recommend Nursing to?
There’s so many different types of people on my course but I think the unifying thing is being able to care for people. To leave the ward thinking ‘I left everything in there, I gave everything I could today’ makes it all worthwhile.
You just need to be sure of yourself and that will grow with time. In first year, everyone comes in terrified but by third year you’re walking around the ward knowing ‘I can do this’.