- Course: Adult Nursing BSc
- Year of graduation: 2021
About the University
Why did you choose the University of Leeds?
I chose the University of Leeds because the course for adult nursing impressed me so much that I decided every other university would be subpar in comparison. As well as falling in love with the city, going to the University of Leeds was the only place I could imagine myself training to be a nurse.
What are the top 3 best things you have experienced the University of Leeds?
Although it is different for every student, the best thing about coming to this university was meeting my incredible friends who I will be friends with for life (as cliché as it sounds). I would say the second best thing was being able to live and train in one of the coolest cities in the country whilst learning on such a beautiful campus central to the city centre; every time I went into uni I felt lucky that this city was on my doorstep. The third best thing was experiencing my nurse training in Leeds; compared to other hospital trusts I have worked at, the quality of learning experience was incredible and knowing you’re working in infamous hospitals such as St James’ really makes you proud of the city you live in.
What are your favourite 3 things about city of Leeds? What are the best events/places you have visited in the city?
My favourite bars in Leeds are the Domino, Hyde Park Book Club, Headrow House and Belgrave Music Hall. The Domino looks like a barbers shop unless you know its there and is the venue for some amazing jazz musicians. I also love all the places you can visit for walks or outside adventures such as Kirkstall Abbey and Roundhay Park. On sunny days Hyde Park is the only place to be, the atmosphere in the summer is amazing - Leeds is good like that; you have the bustle of the city paired with the serenity of nature. We are lucky to have that in a big city! My favourite place in Leeds though is Headingley – I have lived there for the past couple of years and it has become my home. From doing the Ottley Run to Karaoke Sunday’s at Skyrack, it is the place to be for students and will make you never want to leave Leeds!
What made you choose Adult Nursing?
I took a year out before I came to university because I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life and felt quite despondent that all my friends had found their passion and I was yet to find mine. In that year out I decided to get a job as a domiciliary carer because my mum told me I would be good at it! A few months later I had fallen in love with caring for people, and decided I wanted to go into it fulltime, but I longed for a clinical environment. I applied for adult nursing immediately and haven’t looked back.
What is special about Adult Nursing at Leeds?
The multitude of experiences you get; in my nearly 3 years of nursing I have had clinical experience in near enough every area of practice. It is rare to be so lucky to have seen nearly everything before you are even qualified!
What was your interview experience like? Do you have any tips for succeeding in the interview?
It sounds ridiculously cliché – but be yourself. I will never forget how nervous I was for my interview day, but once you relax and realise that the interviewers want you to succeed as much as you do, your anxiety eases off. They couldn’t shut me up by the end of it! Another tip would be to make sure you mention past experience if you have any; and if you haven’t make sure you make it clear you are excited to learn. The keener you are to be an eager learner the better!
What has been your favourite placement?
J97 – Oncology without a doubt! I now know I am going to work in oncology as a qualified nurse thanks to this placement!
Can you tell us about the facilities you use such as the adult ward and ICU?
Everybody must do a critical care placement, before they qualify so you get the opportunity to either work in ICU/HDU or A&E! I worked in A&E, but my friends who worked in ICU absolutely loved it. You also get the chance on certain placements to go down to the theatre and watch operations (I watched a hip replacement!).
How has having a personal tutor helped you during your time at Leeds?
I wouldn’t have gotten through uni without one. I cannot begin to express how important it is to speak to somebody at university about anything going on in your life – the amount of times I’ve emailed my personal tutor saying I’m fed up and need a rant! They really are your confidant in times where you just need to offload, and they are also your advocate. They fight your corner if it needs fighting and are just overall great support systems to have.
What support is available to students on the Adult Nursing course?
There are a few different support systems available. On certain placements (oncology offered this to me) they have a ‘debrief’ session occasionally after a particular difficult shift, in which you can offload any emotions. Other placements may well offer this support. I have not been on a placement where the staff have been unkind to students; if you need some time out after a particular heavy day, staff are more than happy to accommodate. Your personal tutor will be there to listen to any worries you have, or another member of University staff if you feel closer to them. For bigger issues, the University do have student counselling which are able to offer both short term and long term support. You are never alone, whilst being a student here.
Social life and student opportunities
What societies have you joined? What have type of social events have you enjoyed the most?
I myself didn’t join any societies within the University itself as I never really had a ‘hobby’ as such and felt anxious to join; but my friends who have joined societies are still friends with their team mates in third year, so it is definitely worth having a look. Nursing wise, I became a student ambassador for the RCN which allowed me to visit conferences on behalf of the university, as well as being a 2020/2021 Student Nursing Times Editor allowing me to publish my writing in the Nursing Times (!) and I am also a Student Research Nurse Link Practitioner, which allows for me to be the link between research opportunities in the trust and students in the university.
What you enjoy about being a student in Leeds?
Leeds is a very student-orientated city. Everything is catered to us; restaurants, pubs, clubs, shops. It is great for events and nightlife because people know how many students reside in and around Leeds. It’s one of those places that you miss when you aren’t there.
Where did you do your placements?
My placements have been: Female Orthopaedics, Dialysis Unit, A&E, Chapeltown Neighbourhood Team (District Nurses), Oncology and my next one is Cardiac Outpatients.
Can you describe a typical day on placement?
A typical day on a long day (usually 7am-7.30pm or 7.30am-8pm) on a ward goes something like this: arrive on the ward, get changed (in changing rooms/toilets), go into handover, assist your mentor (staff nurse) with morning medications, help the patients with washes and showers, assist any patient with breakfast, have a break around 10am (but can vary on different wards), do jobs that need doing, assist patients who ring their buzzers, assist your mentor with anything that needs doing whilst simultaneously learning (they will be constantly teaching you things), assist with lunchtime meds, continue interacting with patients, learning from your mentor, have another break around 4pm/5pm (again, this varies on different wards), continue with jobs and learning, assist with tea time meds, assist with any food, finish! Obviously this is a very rough outline, but you get used to the routine very quickly.
What did you learn from the experience?
I have learnt so much on placement that I would end up writing paragraphs. I have learnt a lot of people skills; how to react when a patient isn’t as nice as they could be (!), how to comfort upset relatives/patients, how to bite your tongue sometimes! But also how to laugh with people you never thought you would be interacting with, hug and joke around with people from every walk of life. Nursing experience has really taught me more about humanity than anything else. Placements are also a really good opportunity to put what you’ve seen in theory into practice (medications, IV’s, moving and handling etc). Doing a task tends to make you learn quicker so placements are great in that respect too.
What were the highlights for you?
My highlights are the smaller interactions. So one of my favourite days on Oncology, was when myself and another student nurse bought in pink nail varnish for the older women in one of the bays, and we put on some music and sat and painted their nails and washed their hair and really pampered them. These women were nearly all terminal, meaning they didn’t have long left but this hour of pampering each other allowed these women to feel a bit less like ‘patients’ and more like women. It was one of my favourite days I have ever had.
How did your course prepare you for your placements?
The course definitely prepared us for placements – you have clinical skills at the university which allows for you to go into the university clinical suites in your uniform and practice practical skills such as the aseptic technique, bed making, catheterisation etc. There is also seminars on some of the harder things you may encounter. You don’t go onto placement feeling bewildered and unprepared.
What are the top three things you can take away from your placements? (e.g. life skills, technical skills, personal development, career connections)
I would say the number one thing I learnt from placements, as mentioned previously, is people skills and humanity. You see everything. I held the hand of a 50 year old man as he was dying as he told me how best to live life before its too late. There are few other courses that will give you that privilege. The second thing I learnt was technical clinical skills. If you are seeing things over and over again every day for a few weeks, you learn a lot about them. For example I learnt best how to start IV’s whilst on placement, I learnt best how to use slide sheets, what NG’s are for, how to remove cannulas etc all whilst on placement more than in the classroom due to the nature of placement and how often you see it all. The third thing I learnt was about myself. I learnt from placements just what sort of nurse I want to be. By working on placement you really do see yourself in the future as a newly qualified nurse and you just know how you’re going to work, because you learn things about yourself you wouldn’t be able to learn anywhere else.
I would also like to include that the University gave us the opportunity to be mentors for students thinking of going into healthcare which I took up – it was lovely to speak to students about this course!