I'm 33 now and hoping to start a mental health nursing degree in September 2014 when I will have a 5 year old and a nearly 3 year old, my husband works full time and I don't have any family to help with child care although I've found a childminder who's willing to be flexible which is great. I really want to do this course, it really means a lot to me but not at the expense of my kids, I feel like will I ever see them during term time, how flexible are the placements, are they willing to meet you half way if you need to finish at a certain time? What does the timetable look like for a semester? When you're not on placement are you in everyday all day? I just want to be able to pick my little girl up from school some days out of the week, I really treasure our little walk home and sometimes you even get told what has happened that day! Being around all the time helps me know they are happy and I'm worried if I'm selfishly off doing my own thing then they will suffer. I'd love to hear from anyone else in a similar situation to know if its all manageable or if I should wait until they are both at school?
I don't think that there is any 'perfect time' when you have young children to do a nursing degree. I started mine in 2006 when DS1 was 6 and DS3 was 3. Im not going to lie and say it was 'easy' to juggle everything - however I knew that it was what I wanted to do so I had to make it work.
Each University is different and will have to have different timetables- The NMC expects that you do 4,600 hours 'training' over the three years and that is split 50/50 between University and clinical placements.
i was really fortunate to have had fantastic mentors who understood my predicament when it came to needing to be in a certain place at a certain time for my children- however not all mentors are like this. I was told by one that the reason she was so flexible with me was because i worked hard when working with her so she knew i wasn't a slacker. When you qualify you won't really be able to demand a certain pattern of working so if you need to be at the school gate every day for 3.30 then its not the right career for you.
I was certainly able to pick my DS1 up from school at least twice a week (when in uni) and could take him most days (this obviously depends how far away from uni you live and how you travel in)
when on Placement on inpatients I also found time to school run as I would be working certain shifts- the only time that was hard was on Community placements as this would mean working 9-5 so I couldn't collect from school (but had good childcare set up for after school). When not on placement I think we would be in for about 4 days a week - may be 5 but they were never 'full days'- lectures would start at 10am and we would be done by 3pm if it was a 'full day. some days we would be over by 1pm- but each university is different.
Im a ward manager now and I do the same with the students on my ward- I always ask if they have other commitments and try to be flexible- there is no point demanding that someone do certain hours if this is going to create problems at home potentially meaning we lose a fantastic student nurse/future nurse. The NHS promotes a 'work/life' balance so I try to be as reasonable as possible.
You should contact your intended university and ask if they have a timetable for this years cohort. They very rarely change the programme so its likely to be the same when you apply.
Our Placements were in 'blocks' of six weeks - in my first year i think I recall us being in university from Sept- Nov. Then on Placement from mid nov to christmas (half term). Back into University for 6 weeks in january- out on placement mid feb for 6 weeks - then back in uni for 6 weeks.
Im also a mental health nurse- its the best job in the world. You should go for it. If you have any questions just ask!
Thank you so much for your reply, it's exactly what I needed to understand the reality of the course. I'm not expecting to be able to pick my daughter up everyday and especially when I qualify and work I know things will be different then but I just wanted to know I wasn't going to be away training all the time. You said your mentor was more flexible with you because she could see you were a hard worker and I was kind of hoping that would be the case, I'm a real grafter and always get on well with people so I was hoping I could work that to my advantage! I'm so excited about doing this course but you can't help but worry as I'm sure you know, think you for being positive, I can't wait to start this course I know it will mean so much to me! Where do you work? I'll be going to UWE (Bristol) x