Emma Ballinger, alumna, Children's Nursing BSc (Hons)
Emma explored all of the options available to study nursing whilst in London, but felt LSBU had the right atmosphere and immediately felt welcomed
A caring approach to student engagement and teaching
While studying at LSBU, Emma Balinger felt that the teaching staff really cared about the students and teaching the next generation of nurses. LSBU was the perfect fit for her, and after doing thorough research into her options, she felt the elective modules provided the course content for her to flourish within her studies.
“For me the placements were a priority area and I looked specifically at the electives available as well as the course content. I am a very hands-on person and the practical nature of the course appealed to me.”
A new meaning to collaborative learning
LSBU has a diverse student population, which provides a great opportunity to meet new people, learn from them, and to enhance your view on different perspectives, which Emma can really attest to. “Mixing with people from all over London, the UK and the world meant that the course took on a new meaning and the work we achieved was more in depth taking in each person’s view point.”
Consolidating her learning throughout the course
Emma looks back on her course with happiness and knows that the highlight of the course for her was the elective placement module, allowing her to consolidate all that she had learned throughout the course.
”The voluntary work and the placements that I undertook during the course made me the nurse I am today. The course placed us in various hospital and community settings to get a broad experience of what children’s nursing is really like. I enjoyed all the placements, but for me I wanted to experience what nursing was like where a health service infrastructure is not there to support or serve the community.”
Her involvement and engagement with the health service doesn’t stop here in the UK, the great experiences she had a LSBU allowed her to work with an organisation that works with schools in Nairobi.
“Porridge and Rice works with schools in the slums of Nairobi to enable them to get an education and get themselves out of poverty. The work always begins with a feeding programme and progresses through health programs, children’s rights and gender to sustainability. My first task was to make sure that the children were being given an adequate diet in the schools and rejig the quantities to balance it a little more."
A rewarding time at both LSBU and on placement
Emma's work on this placement was a truly rewarding experience that has continued past her time at LSBU, because she really sees the positive results that the project produces.
“The people there have so little and they are so warm and friendly with the potential to thrive given the proper chance. But this is the place where a fifth of the children will die before reaching their 5th birthday, they have no free access to health care, the most common causes of death are diarrhoea, respiratory problems and being hit by a car. It was empowering passing on our knowledge and seeing them run with it, For example, all pupils now wash their faces daily to prevent the spread of trachoma and other eye infections and have clean running water with soap from Porridge and Rice to enable this (water is otherwise bought by the jerrycan full as needed).
"My involvement with Porridge and Rice didn’t end with my elective; it opened the door to more. Since then I have returned 5 times to the projects, was awarded a Youth Achievement Award by the International Peace Foundation at the Houses of Parliament, and have attended conferences and given talks about extreme poverty and the importance of education. I was first a trustee and then made the vice chair, and am privileged to be taking LSBU students to Nairobi and giving them the same experience I had.”
A gratifying and successful career with more to come
Emma is now working at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on the adolescent ward as a qualified Nurse. She finds that her job is “very hands on and you really see the difference in the lives of those you treat and the people that you come across on a daily basis.”
Emma feels that her degree gave her the knowledge and the confidence to work in my job and extrapolate my skills into the volunteering world. Indeed, Emma plans to continue her learning by studying a mentoring qualification here at LSBU, along with completing a course on tropical diseases to further the work that Porridge and Rice do.