Nursing Degree as a Mature Student

(49 Posts)
Changemylife16 Wed 27-Jan-16 17:07:13

I'm thinking of applying to uni to take a nursing degree. It will be a complete change of career for me. I am in my forties and I'm wondering if I have the stamina for it! Has anyone else done this at a later age and what was your experience like?

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AtiaoftheJulii Wed 27-Jan-16 23:57:05

I qualify this year and I'm 45, and not the oldest in my cohort. I haven't found it as tiring as I thought it would be, even 12.5 hour shifts. I'm doing a PGDip which means you get it done in 2 years, which I thought would be sensible! I'm really enjoying it smile

Imnotaslimjim Thu 28-Jan-16 00:00:31

I'm hoping to start next year, I'm 35. So if you don't mind I'll be following to see what others say!

Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 17:51:12

Glad you're enjoying it Atia and not finding it too tiring. I think I'm most worried about night shifts and getting to sleep in a noisy house (teenagers, dog) etc. Did you have to do a numeracy test at interview and was it fairly straightforward?

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Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 17:58:57

Hi Imnot, it is exciting but a little bit daunting as well isn't it? 35 still seems young, I think it is a good age for a nursing career. Do you have any experience or is it a jump into the unknown?

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Lunaballoon Thu 28-Jan-16 18:19:32

My DD is just coming to the end of her nursing degree. It's been hard work and she's struggled at times - many long hours of placements and a fair amount of academic work - dissertation, essays etc, but definitely worth it. She's already been offered two jobs.

Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 18:31:26

Thanks Luna, you must be really proud of her. It is definitely a real achievement. I think it is a career where there will always be work available. Just need to keep my focus on the end result!

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gingerboy1912 Thu 28-Jan-16 18:39:56

Hi op. I'm a HCA and work alongside student nurses a lot. A few things worth mentioning imo The long shifts, they can be a real shock if you're not used to being on your feet for that length of time . Do you have transport? Where would your nearest hospital be for you placements? Can your household run without you if you do three or even four long shifts a week?

Lunaballoon Thu 28-Jan-16 18:57:53

I'm very proud of DD. She was never a particularly academic type - scraped through GCSEs and A levels, so she's done really well and yes, there's a shortage of nurses so it's one of the few graduate careers where you'll be able to more or less walk straight into a job.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Jan-16 20:04:45

My kids were all at secondary school when I started, and they've been really helpful, all stepped to the new challenges in a very supportive manner. I have to say, I never have any trouble sleeping after a night shift, lol!

Yes, we had literacy and numeracy tests - I went to interviews at three unis. All straightforward though, and there's plenty of practice material available.

Is there a university fairly near you?

DrewsWife Thu 28-Jan-16 20:20:30

I'm 39. At college doing the year before. I had been out of education for 20years so had to do this as my prove you can cope academically I'm currently 2 days at college and 2 days on placement.

I do 12 hour shifts on a busy ward. I have always worked in admin. I am exhausted but I LOVE it. Really love it.

I developing a great love of skin at the moment.

My uni entrance exam is Monday and if I pass that then I have my formal interview.

Placement at my uni will be 6 weeks lectures followed by 6 weeks placement in hospital or clinic settings. I will be required to work whatever shifts in asked. Only 7 weeks leave per year.

On each placement I will have outcomes to achieve and prove my progress.

So far in my college course I am smashing the placement and struggling a bit with the academic side. I'm learning though. So I'm ok with it.

On placement you won't be a wall flower. You will be up to your eyes in all sorts of bodily fluids.

I have learned that I am great all fluids except poo. Which isn't helpful as the student.

If you go for it... Go in with a sleeves rolled up policy. The staff LOVE it when you are willing. Some students aren't. There can be a turnover seemingly with those who think nurses don't wipe bums. (I know a student personally who left for that reason)

Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 20:27:23

That's very reassuring Atia, I'll have to brush up on my maths skills as they are a bit rusty. It's great that everyone was supportive of you. My kids will be fine, although my DH isn't keen because I won't be earning money for the next three years.

There is a university in a nearby town which is fairly easy to get to.

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Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 20:33:40

Hi Gingerboy, thanks for your thoughts. I will just have to push through the pain barrier with my feet! I do have transport and I am fairly close to quite a few hospitals. My kids are late teens now, so I think they will adapt. It is really good to consider all these points.

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smellysocksandchickenpox Thu 28-Jan-16 20:43:40

Can you get any sort of HCA experience first? I do think with first year students the ones who you see really struggle on placement are the ones who hadn't HCAed and expected more flexibiliy than you get as a student nurse.

Student nurses get LESS flexibility than qualified nurses for the most part. Staff nurses can make request on their off duties if they need to fit around family events etc, or take a leave day, but student nurses have to work most shifts alongside their mentors and do whatever their mentor is down to do.

There's no leaving early because you have a parent teacher evening etc. You are expected to be able to commit to being able to be there for whatever shifts you get and there tends to be limited sympathy if it turns out that you actually don't have the support/structure in place for your home commitments to be met while you're on whatever shifts you need to be on in order to work with your mentor.

Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 20:49:11

Drewswife, thank you! I think placement is the part where you soon find out if you're cut out for nursing or not! I have all these little doubts, but I think I am just going to go for it. Your enthusiasm really shines through!

I did a higher education course ten years ago and I'm hoping that will get me in. If not, I will take an access course at my local college. I am also trying to get some experience as a health care assistant on a ward, I think that would boost my confidence.

Thanks for the advice of getting sleeves rolled up, I'll remember that.

Good luck with your exam on Monday, you sound like you will make a fantastic nurse!

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smellysocksandchickenpox Thu 28-Jan-16 20:52:57

10 years ago wouldn't be recent enough for my nearest uni (and even if recent they would want it to be science if not access or BTEC) but every uni is different so contact all of your near and nearish ones.

smellysocksandchickenpox Thu 28-Jan-16 20:54:02

Some will accept certain OU modules instead of a full access course..
It varies so much.

Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 21:03:41

Thanks Smellysocks, I totally agree, I definitely need to get some experience as a HCA. I have applied to one hospital and I am waiting to hear back from them. It will give me a chance to find out if I have what it takes! I imagine it is something you either love or hate.

I should be ok on the home front, as my youngest DD is off to uni herself in September. I think if my kids were younger it would be more difficult to have that support in place.

Loads of good advice, thanks everyone!

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Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 21:11:05

I guess I'll have to prepare myself for that Smellysocks and line up an access course at college. It would have the advantage of easing me back into studying and writing essays again. I am trying not to get too excited about it and be realistic, but I would be so chuffed to get on the degree course!

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DrewsWife Thu 28-Jan-16 21:13:37

I have a one year old. It's fun so far. Lots of juggling. But it will be worth it Call uni tomorrow for advice. they have already started the interview process.

smellysocksandchickenpox Thu 28-Jan-16 21:20:53

on the plus side, if you do end up having to do access, most people I know who have really enjoyed it and said it was a great prep for uni, and not just the box ticking exercise they thought it would be.

And a few hated, but admitted that what they hated was doing academic work and it was better to find that out sooner rather than later.. so either way, worth doing.

You may be lucky with a hospital HCA job, but they can actually be pretty in demand these days, so think outside the box and look at private hospitals and clinics and things like rehabilitation units (for post stroke or head injury) or nursing homes.

Nursing home experience looks good on your application, because it shows you are willing to get stuck in to the less glamourous types of nursing.

Changemylife16 Thu 28-Jan-16 21:35:55

I have heard that hospital HCA jobs are in demand now, it's a bit like Teaching Assistant roles. I think I will start looking around at other health care units too. I feel quite positive about it all now and that I have other options if I don't get straight onto the degree. Lots to think about, thank you. flowers

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Imnotaslimjim Thu 28-Jan-16 21:48:11

I'm currently doing an Access course, and Iv'e 3 years experience in care which is what prompted me to want to be a nurse. I just feel there is more out there for me

DrewsWife Thu 28-Jan-16 21:53:00

Should we set up a student nurses thread/group of our own??

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 28-Jan-16 21:58:59

Of course, not all students without hca experience struggle grin

You only have to work 40% of your time with your mentor (although generally I just try to spend as much time with them as possible), so there is often a little bit of flexibility when your off duty's being drawn up - although I've always gone in with the expectation that there will be none, and if I manage to get a day off when I want one then that's a bonus. (In fact on my first placement my mentor gave me the rota and basically let me fill in my own shifts!)

There will be open days coming up, or as suggested, just email the universities, do you can find out what the entry requirements might be.

I hope your dh realises that this could be more important to you than just money smile

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