While studying for a Neuroscience degree at the University of Nottingham, Jessica kept thinking of a career in nursing. This was mainly due to her living with three nurses; who at the end of the day would tell her about their days. Nursing just seemed something that Jessica could imagine herself doing.
It was while working for a year as a Science Technician in a lab, never seeing patients and feeling so far removed from what she had wanted to do – that Jessica realised she wanted a change. She wanted to be closer to the front line of healthcare, so she decided to follow her former house-mates into nursing.
Fast-track to nursing
After gaining offers from other London universities, the big name hospitals which LSBU is attached to swayed Jessica's opinion. She was surprised to realise her first degree could be put to use, allowing her to fast-track through a two-year PgDip. "The PgDip course is very small in comparison to the third year group. It is nice being part of such an intimate group and this influences on lectures, with lots of discussion."
It was Children's Nursing in particular that appealed to Jessica. "I have always worked and volunteered in healthcare, having been a first aider with St John Ambulance and a carer in care home. Nursing felt like a natural progression. I knew that I wanted to work with children, but knew I wasn't limiting myself by studying children's nursing. As a children's nurse you look after the whole family. It is important to think about which branch of Nursing you want to study as in my opinion they are very different jobs."
"Being such a short course meant we spent a lot of our time on placement. I have had two ward placements at Great Ormond Street. It's amazing being a student there."
A typical shift on placement while on ward is roughly 12 hours long, either during the day or though the night. It starts with a ward handover from the previous shift, and then students are allocated a nurse to work with for the day and typically three or four patients.
"No two days are ever the same – so much depends on the ward and the patient as to how the shift progresses. You can spend your day on the ward, looking after the child and completing most of the tasks along with the nurse. You may also get the opportunity to follow the child off the ward to places like Theatre, Physiotherapy or other tests or procedures. There is also the chance to attend to meetings where you can learn about the patient's journey and their plan of care."
Jessica also spent six weeks at a special needs school for children with visual impairments and other complex needs. "This was something I wasn't expecting to enjoy, yet I loved it. I saw a complete different outlook on education and it was nice to work with children who spend a lot of time in hospital and to see them well and living and enjoying their lives in the community."
Jessica is proud of the feedback she has received on her placements. "Nurses have picked up positively on characteristics in my care which is how I would like Children to see me." In the long-term, she is hoping to utitlise her first degree and nursing together. "I have a big interest in pain research and hope to become a clinical nurse specialist in pain or the Neurosciences."