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To go back to uni in these circumstances?

(20 Posts)
UniDilema Tue 14-Jun-16 16:06:10

I'm very, very torn and feel like I'm having a total sliding doors moment. Please MUmsnetters, help decide my future.

I'm 40yo and work as a HCP in the nhs. I work part time but a full time salary would be about 40k for me. So well paid, good pension. I have a fairly nice job in that i have a specialist role so don't have to work shifts. My job can be stressful at times.

12 months ago I had gone through a two year bad patch and applied for uni. Ive now been offered a place at uni. Things are better at work now. I wouldn't say I'm enjoying my job but I'm not hating it either. Work is work, I don't look forward to it but once I'm there it's ok.

I think now I'm part time I have a good work/life balance. Realistically I don't think I could do this job till I retire. It's fast paced, stressful, mentally hard and can at times be physically hard. I do spend quite a bit of my job direct patient contact on the wards but not as much as most people doing my job due to my specialist role. I'm not a nurse. There aren't really many avenues for me to explore in my current career...it's fairly dead end to be honest. Only other option is management which doesn't appeal and I can't do part time.

So the choice is stick with what I'm doing or go to uni.

Uni course is a two year postgrad physicians associate course. Course fees are paid and there's a 5k a year bursary. Financially it would be hard. Saying that I do have circa 50k savings, but I am a real rainy day fund kind of person and reluctant to decimate my savings. Part of me feels I would rather retire five years earlier than otherwise possible and keep me 50k to see me through retiring five years before I get my pension.

Dd is in year ten. If I started uni it would be full time for two years and involve commuting over an hour each way to uni and to placements. So I wouldn't be home until 6:30ish every day. Dh doesn't get home until around then. I currently get home about 4:30pm. I think although dd doesn't need anyone home it's too much for her 5 days a week to come home to an empty house, be getting dinner, etc

I also have a dog which although I would get a dog walker every day I don't think it's fair on her to leave her 5 days a week.

I feel if I turn it down I would be turning down the opportunity to train for a really amazing job. Which would pay slightly more than I currently earn. If I can get a job......there's not many advertised as it's still quite a new role. But I guess as more students graduate there will be more jobs plus people say a lot of PA jobs aren't advertised, jobs are just offered to PAs graduating. I know of one PA who got a job like this in a gP surgery, no advert.

I think it's the commuting that's putting me off the most. Not just the time but the expense. It's either £17 a day on the train or I drive about 45 miles on a congested road and there's no parking I could afford near the hospital or the uni. Cheapest parking is £2 for 4 hours and 4 hour max stay. No idea how that works in a full day! So petrol costs, £1 toll bridge and parking each day on a student bursary.

My local uni and hospital are seriously wanting to put on a PA course and I think it will happen in the next few years so I could apply there. But I might not get in. They may by then be charging tuition fees and currently they don't. They may not offer the 5k a year bursary. Each uni sets their own bursary/tuition fees thing and it differs. Most unis don't do a bursary. One last year did a 10k bursary but have now dropped to 5k. So then I may not be able to afford it.

So, follow my dream but have no money or time or family life for two years. Or gamble on waiting until dd is older and also maybe being able to do it closer to home. But if I take that gamble then accept I may have to trudge along at uninteresting and stressful job for possibly another 25 plus years or until I have a breakdown and Jack it in to work in a cafe! fgrin

UniDilema Tue 14-Jun-16 16:06:34

Sorry, that's an essay and a half!

araiba Tue 14-Jun-16 16:10:15

what do you want to do?

UniDilema Tue 14-Jun-16 16:24:59

Well I would like to,go to uni but not if it's not going to be fair on my daughter. I think it's the not getting home until late every evening which worries me.

araiba Tue 14-Jun-16 16:39:32

go to uni then

your daughter is 16. im sure she can handle being home alone for a couple of hours if it means she sees her mum training for the amazing job she wants

ShtoppenDerFloppen Tue 14-Jun-16 16:47:38

In your shoes I would go to uni.

My opinion is biased, however, as I returned to full time education 3 months ago at 42 years old.

FlibbertigibbetArmadillo Tue 14-Jun-16 16:52:56

I vote go to uni. Your DD will be ok till 6:30 5 days a week. She will probably love it, and you will be setting a fantastic example

Cherylene Tue 14-Jun-16 17:01:58

I would do the uni, while you can still get funding and whilst you want to do it. Strike when the iron is hot!

Your DD will never be the right age, but your enthusiasm might wain whilst you wait for the right time.

jay55 Tue 14-Jun-16 17:07:21

My mum graduated the end of my first year at uni. Seeing her study hard during my alevels was a great example to me and I was very proud of her.

Do it whilst the money is there.

Beepbopboop Tue 14-Jun-16 17:25:08

Go to uni. It sounds like an amazing opportunity.
You have potentially 25+ years of work yet, you can't carry on with something you don't really enjoy.

mummytime Tue 14-Jun-16 17:30:06

If you want to go to Uni. It will be a fabulous example for your DD. If she doesn't have any special needs/problems which mean she needs more care, then I can't see a problem.
I'd try to come up with a deal that you'll both try to get some study done, so when you do get home you can spend a bit of quality catching up time together.
I am sure there are solutions to everything. Some Dog walkers local to me will care for the dog during the day, or your DD can give her a quick walk when she gets home. Use a slow cooker or share preparing meals with your DD. Ask at the Uni about parking, and if there are any deals? Alternatively there are websites where you can hire parking on someone's drive/garage. Is there a season ticket for the toll bridge?
Are there things you can do whilst in the car? I listen to podcasts. Or maybe the train would be better (and again look at the cost of season tickets)

bluecarpet Tue 14-Jun-16 17:52:54

I wouldn't train as a PA. it's a political gimmick, many GPs are refusing to train them as we think they are unsafe. You may well find you've got no job to go to at the end. Remember all those who trained to be energy inspectors and had nothing to do when the inspections stopped being compulsory and no one wanted one?

SlightlyperturbedOwl Tue 14-Jun-16 18:01:57

Personally I think you need to consider the job at the end of the Uni course. Likely to be shifts and high pressure (as really these are junior doctor roles but without much progression and hopefully the PAs will have more idea what they are doing as they will be doing it for many years) and pay not much more than your current role. Is that what you want to do? Will it be better than what you do now? If so then go for it, but do think it through carefully.

UniDilema Tue 14-Jun-16 18:04:21

That's one concern for sure.

I just found someone on FB who is doing the course already, she said its full on. Lectures till 5pm every day. The parking is shite and it looks like I will have to walk/tram 30 mins back to the car. So at car at 5:30 pm then 90 min commute. So not home till 7pm. Then she says there will be loads of revision and work to do in the evening.

I would have to be up at 6am and leave the house at 7am every day.

I don't think it's going to be workable. I don't want to be out the house 12 hours a day, 5 days a week and then all evening and weekend revising.

FuriousFate Tue 14-Jun-16 18:10:37

It sounds to me as though you're trying to talk yourself out of it. Definitely better to try and then potentially give up and head back into your current career, than not try and spend the rest of your life wondering. You've got savings, you've got a bursary towards some costs, your DD is old enough to spend a little time alone. And you'll be a great role model for her. Is there any way a friend/DP could be home one evening a week with her to break things up a bit? The commute sounds long but is no longer than many have in London each day. You can make it work if you want to.

SlightlyperturbedOwl Tue 14-Jun-16 18:11:37

It is very full-on, I've seen a detailed course spec for one of these courses. On the one I saw it required study/assignments during full-time placements too. But 2 years is do-able if the end result is what you want, to me that is the key point. I can imagine that for a HCP with patient contact on the sort of band you must be on there may not be that much difference in terms of pressure etc compared with what you are doing now.

anyname123 Tue 14-Jun-16 18:20:10

I'd be wary of the PA role too. What band will it be? It's much like the ANP role which some trusts have fully embraced, and others jut have 1 or 2! I'd be cautious of a brand new role, could you put the time / effort into doing an MSc in your field and progressing that way instead maybe?

lougle Tue 14-Jun-16 18:25:05

Just bear in mind that FY1/2 doctors slog it out doing the grunt work because they are progressing towards the really interesting stuff later. PA is like being a permanent FY1/2, really. Lots of clerking, history taking, initial work up then hand it over when it gets interesting.

UniDilema Tue 14-Jun-16 19:04:59

Yes, I think I would enjoy history taking but maybe after a few years of it it would get tedious. I'm more interested in working in a GP setting rather than a hospital setting I think.

Ive just spoken to Dh and dd. Dd is really keen that I do it and doesn't seen bothered about being on her own in the evenings at all. And I guess she would be home by 3:30pm for the dog which makes me feel better for the dog as well. Dh doesn't seem totally against it. I think he's happier that there's a 5k bursary which this morning I didn't know for sure if it had a bursary.

UniDilema Tue 14-Jun-16 19:05:40

All the nhs blurb about PAs say it's a band 7 role. I'm currently top of band 6.

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