Sam O’Brien, PgDip Children’s Nursing student, career change, mature student
Before becoming a student at London South Bank University, Sam's career was as an Early Years teacher, first in a mainstream setting and then in a special school
Finding teachers' holidays and hours to be inflexible, Sam looked for a change of direction. "I found the medical side of caring for the children I worked with interesting and decided that Children's Nursing was the way forward for me."
Already possessing a degree in Psychology and plenty of work and life experience, Sam decided that the PgDip route would be the best training option for her. Having decided to study in London, Sam looked at all the universities working with well-known and highly regarded hospital Trusts. After attending some open days, she chose LSBU.
"Starting any course can feel a little daunting to begin with, especially when it involves going into different placements where each one can feel like starting a new job. However, I feel I have coped well and adjusted to the different routines such as night duties fairly well."
Sam was in the first PgDip nursing cohort that LSBU has taken. "We are a small cohort with a wide age range and come from very different working backgrounds, but we get along really well and have become a supportive and close knit group. Generally, everything has gone well so far."
Sam completed a six-week community placement in a special school and two placements, 10 and 12 weeks, at Evelina Children's Hospital - part of the Guy's and St Thomas' Trust. "The hospital was built very recently and has excellent facilities and a lovely child friendly feel. The Trust has an excellent reputation."
Sam worked the same hours as the nursing staff; starting at 7.30am and finishing at 8pm. "These are long days but we only work 13 days a month which means we have plenty of free time too." A typical day would begin with handover, when the previous shift passes on important information about the patients.
"The nursing care provided depends on why the patient is in hospital, but it usually involves regular observations such as heart rate, respiration rate, temperature and blood pressure; giving medications; attending to wound sites, recording fluid balance and liaising with doctors if there were any concerns. If children are having surgery pre-operative assessments are made. Usually there is also time for some play, and getting to know parents and families a bit better."
Nursing is hard!
The University has modern well-equipped facilities. Sam has enjoyed that she is with a lively, vocal group and the opportunity to have discussions and interactive seminars as well as more formal lectures.
Nursing is an intensive course, particularly the PgDip – you don't get the long holidays that you would normally when studying a degree. Children's nursing is a career with plenty of variety and many career options. I was looking for flexibility in my career, both with regards to when I work and also where, be it within the hospital setting or community.
After finishing the course, Sam is hoping to move back up to Yorkshire and work for a year in a hospital to consolidate her learning before looking for work in the community.