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To ask for advice on which degree to take?

(59 Posts)
GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 10:16:16

I'm a mature student, for current (but temporary, fingers crossed) health reasons and a small child I care for alone until DH returns from overseas, I cannot currently work so I was therefore thinking it would be worth restarting my education with a home based learning program such as the OU.

Ideally I would like a career in MH nursing.grin But I don't think there is a route to nursing which is home based and part time? I know I'd need placements and in a year or 2 hopefully be in a position to do this, but not yet.

The OU nursing degree is employer funded so that rules it out.

A local college does Access to nursing and midwifery part time with the closing date for the course just gone, but there are distance learning access courses - but would any London universities likely offer a nursing degree on completion of this as a part time study? (cant move to be nearer other uni's)

IF it's not possible due to circumstances for me to enter nursing.(I'll only have 20ish years left of working until retirement so can't really afford to hang about)....

Are the Open degrees worth anything towards a career in a healthcare setting? Has anyone found an Open degree with the OU useful? They're very popular so I assume so, but don't know anyone in RL who has done one... Can you then go on to do postgrad studies that would qualify you in a career within mental health?

There are 2 other degrees that would keep my interest with the OU so would be interested to know if anyone has them and found them useful for employment. They are either the Health Sciences degree or the Psychology and Criminology degree...hmm

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 10:27:24


Mrsstarlord Sun 24-Aug-14 10:47:07

Didn't want to ignore your post but I'm not sure I understand what you are asking to be honest? Haven't had much sleep due to sickly child so its probably just me though.

FWIW these are my thoughts ...

The length of time you would work is not important, mature students have an awful lot to offer and proximity to retirement just wouldn't be an issue in terms of selection.

I think you are asking about whether a Uni would accept a distance learning course as part of the criteria for entry? I think they would although it would also be an idea to get some hands on experience if you haven't already, volunteer for MIND or something if at all possible. All of this would demonstrate your passion for the area, as the courses are funded they are often competitive so the more you can do in preparation the better.

Also make links with the Uni you would want to go to, they will be busy at the moment because of clearing and the new academic year but give them a month or two then call to ask about open days and entry requirements.

There are post graduate MSc programmes for occupational therapy which would enable you to register with the HCPC, not sure if other professions do the same. For OT the requirement would be a related first degree (which could be OU) and some sort of experience in a relevant setting. Study is at MSc level but placements etc are judged by the same criteria as undergraduate students.

If your question was will any distance learning courses enable me to get a career in MH I'm pretty sure the answer would be no, the placements are a really important aspect as the communication and clinical skills are so vital.

Good luck!

Boysclothes Sun 24-Aug-14 10:50:45

Access courses are normally the route that mature students take to get on a nursing degree. All the unis will accept them. That's the logical choice if you want to do a nursing/MH nursing degree.

Sleepingstarsmommy Sun 24-Aug-14 10:53:14

I am a huge fan of the OU. My first degree in maths and economics was from the OU and can not praise the materials and support enough.

I have have also undertaken a career change into nursing but you are right it won't be possible to do this part time from home. I am almost finished my BNurs at a conventional uni (which I don't rate nearly as much as the OU). I did some OU modules before I started such as intro to health sciences, cardio vascular disease and cancer modules - which whilst don't count towards my degree have given me good knowledge in certain topics. A lot of my colleagues got on the course through an access course at the uni which they found useful in having an understanding as to how the uni operates and good references which helped with applying.

Finally just want to say nursing is soo rewarding. Be prepared to be physically, mentally and emotionally challenged - it's not an easy option. Doing 12.5 hour night shifts while trying to work on your dissertation isn't easy. But the feeling you get helping and caring for people at their lowest and making a difference to their care, prognosis and lives makes it worth while.

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 10:58:32

Thanks MrsStarlord for replying.

Yes I probably haven't made myself very clear, rather than your sleep deprivation (sympathies to you, I had that to contend with this week) - I guess my main question is if there even is an option I can take to go into nursing (given my circumstances)?

I make you right, I am being a bit naive if I am hoping for a distance learning course to enable me to have a career in MH. I have experience as a support worker and an NVQ3 in health and social care...but I don't think this matters much to a degree, a placement I assume would be vital? I could get a job as a MH support worker...but the pay is low, and remains low, and I can't be proactive about doing that right now due to my circumstances.

After that I was wondering if (removing nursing from the choices) it would be of any help to have any of the following OU degrees to find a career in a healthcare setting at the end of it:

Open degree
Health Sciences degree
Pychology and criminology degree

(or would they simply be education for education's sake, and to actually get a job that uses them in a healthcare setting be near on impossible?)

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 11:06:26

Thanks Boysclothes and Sleepingstarsmommy

I think that answers it - I either should get going with an access to nursing distance learning course for the meantime. And hope that I will be well enough and in circumstances where I can after that get onto a course with a London uni (and try to fit in volunteering to make my application look attractive beforehand)


Change my route entirely, I have previously done an intro to counselling course with the OU which was superb, and was going to do a psychology degree in the hope of becoming a clinical or forensic psychologist one day. But from what I understand, this is incredibly hard to break into, and perhaps I'm starting too late in life to ever get a real job using it?

In a psychiatric hospital obviously there are lots of different careers, I'm wondering if an open degree would be a pathway that could lead to any other careers in this workplace? or the health sciences/criminology and psychology degrees?

Mrsstarlord Sun 24-Aug-14 11:20:57

Clinical psychology is definitely very competitive, forensic less so but in the world of psychology tends to be less highly valued (controversial but true) but jobs are more limited.

Placements will be vital for most careers but some will be more flexible than others, for example counselling or CBT might require you to have clinical experience of working with case studies over a period of time but this probably wouldn't involve working full time over 12 weeks for example as MH nursing or OT or SW would.

May be worth looking into the different types of therapy training (CBT is very big news at the moment, seems to be seen as a panacea for everything - it's not but sciencey people like it and they are in charge of the money) if committing to placements would be hard but I say again - you are not too late!

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 11:30:46

Yes, the counselling route seems like whilst I could qualify, I would likely have to do it as a sideline while working elsewhere to top up income bar getting very lucky with a good NHS position. If it was easier to get jobs doing it, I think it would be right up my street.

Maybe I should just bite the bullet and look up access courses, start it and hope for the best in the future re my circumstances.

Open degrees look fascinating, and I could potentially have a ball learning...but not sure if any postgrad studies would qualify me to be anything in the end related to the MH.

It is v kind of you to say I'm not too late...but at a minimum I'd be looking at entering nursing as an RMN in 4 years.... only 16ish years left then (with a pension to grow and fees to pay off, and if my circumstances aren't ready in a years time...I could be looking at 5/6/7 years plus before I'm even working as an RMN)

ILovePud Sun 24-Aug-14 12:19:16

Clinical psychology is very competitive but I think mature students have lot to bring, one of the most inspiring women I ever met went back to uni in her early 40's and went on to have a very impressive career in academia and clinical practice. One good thing is that the three year training is salaried (starting on £26, 000 per annum). If you went down this route you'd need to get a first degree in psychology, just check that the OU course confers basis for graduate registration with the BPS, this is essential. The support work experience and previous training would stand you in good stead.

Mrsstarlord Sun 24-Aug-14 12:54:37

My very good friend did her OT degree having done 2 previous OU degrees (unrelated), qualified in her early 50s and was a fantastic OT until her retirement. The service users (forensic psychiatry, so right up your street) thought she was amazing and she had the confidence to assert herself in the team and enough life experience that people really respected her. Don't think of your age as a barrier at all - its an asset (and I'm not just being kind)

PoppyNumberNine Sun 24-Aug-14 13:39:18

I am looking at training as a nurse as a mature student (40). I have been to a few open days and age really doesn't seem to be a barrier to getting accepted. I have heard of several people completing their training in their 40s or 50s.

Quite a few universities do post graduate qualifications in nursing. Depending on the university depends on what subjects they want you to have studied. Some seem to only want science or healthcare based first degrees but others are more flexible. Most of the post grad courses are two years full time.

Have a look at the universities near you to see what nursing courses they run. Most will be having open days over the next few months and it is worth going along and speaking to the tutors.

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 13:40:19

Thanks! this has encouraged me. I *think I may have decided to do another module with the OU...

The DE100 investigating psychology

As this still leaves many doors open and gets me back in the swing of learning.

I'm wondering if I did do a psychology related degree whether later down the line a local uni would accept me onto nursing without an access course based on this alone? (well along with my NVQ3 in health and social care, and my first aider qualification? some voluntary work by then? is that too hopeful?) in case I still decide that really I want to be an RMN when I'm in a better position to complete the course with placements etc?

I got very good marks in previous studies so hopefully if I put my all into it I could aim for a first... I believe it does confer ILovePud but I will double check.

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 13:41:56

I will def do that Poppy! Open days is a very good idea...

PoppyNumberNine Sun 24-Aug-14 13:44:06

The fees for nursing students are paid for by the NHS. There is also a means tested bursary available.

With regards to the number of years of work you have left, remember that the retirement age is increasing and there is no longer a compulsory retirement age.

Elllimam Sun 24-Aug-14 14:09:11

Slightly different but if you are interested in MH, Stirling uni does a distance learning MSc in dementia studies. It's mostly online (2 study days a year). It's over 3 years, year 1 is certificate year 2 diploma and year 3 MSc. I didn't have a degree when I started it. It's likely to be cheaper than the OU too xx

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 15:18:15

Poppy do you happen to know if the fees for nursing students are funded by the NHS without already being employed by them?

I assume not but just read something that made me wonder...

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 15:22:17

I wish I was interested in dementia more so... that would be ideal.

Mrsstarlord Sun 24-Aug-14 16:33:00

Yes they are funded by the NHS (well Health Education Boards to be specific) regardless of whether you currently work of them, the numbers of commissioned nursing places is increasing after the Mid Staffs Enquiry so its a good time to be thinking about a career in nursing.

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 16:42:47

So in theory if I do an access course and apply for a part time degree with a London college after it, I could end up with no student loan to repay??? shock

scottishmummy Sun 24-Aug-14 16:57:46

Any health degree will require clinical placements and uni fit in study around placement
If you know you want to be nurse,why not proceed to doing it as postgrad option
You'd need to organise adequate childcare for placement,and placement may incur travel

Good luck

Purplepoodle Sun 24-Aug-14 16:58:29

Why not ring the college up that does the access course and see if there are any places left even though the deadline has passed

SadOldGit Sun 24-Aug-14 17:00:07

Tuition fees are funded by the NHS - but you may need to take out a student loan (depending on circumstances) to fund other costs - this will need to be paid back.

Depending on your circumstances - access courses are normally the best route in (full/part time/distance learning) as are geared up for getting you onto courses rather than just education - if you see what I mean. My daughter has just finished her access course (and worked nights as an HCA as well!) and got offers at her first 3 universities for her course - virtually everyone on her course has an offer for this year (mixture of midwifery/adult nursing/mental health nursing/child nursing/ODP and paramedics)

I went straight from A levels (not fab) for my first NHS career (long time ago) and worked in NHS ever since. Decided wrong side of 40 to retrain so needed to do another 3 year degree - did an OU Human Biology course for evidence of education (and improve my rusty knowledge) which combined with my diploma and ancient A levels was enough to get on my course. Several years later am qualified and working - best thing I ever did

GeorgieBubbleBoo Sun 24-Aug-14 17:00:47

Yes I think I will

Just wondering how long before a uni would expect me to retake an access course should I not yet be in a position to do the nursing degree full time by the end of the access course? I assume your meant to do these things in straight succession...

SadOldGit Sun 24-Aug-14 17:02:07

think you have 3 years from completion of access to starting course (off top of head)

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