Three amazing years as a student nurse are coming to an end.
There have been many high and lows during this nursing programme and while it has been tougher than I ever imagined; I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Every experience either good or bad has helped to shape me into the nurse I am about to become.
So here I am just about to start on the next leg of this fantastic journey as an RNLD.
I have been extremely lucky and had a few job offers to choose from, although that in itself created anxieties; which job should I choose? What if I make the wrong decision? Where will the best career progression be? Which job suits my family needs? All equally valid questions to consider; here is how I made what I consider to be an extremely important decision.
The first job I was offered was in a nursing home for people with dementia, this is an area I love working in and I was happy to be offered the position. I had a few issues as it meant an area move for the family and there were no patients with learning disabilities.
I have spent the last three years totally committed to people with learning disabilities and if I accepted this job it would feel disloyal. But on the other hand, the company the position was with offered excellent career progression, offered preceptorship and I would gain some brilliant clinical skills. I had pretty much made up my mind to accept this post when I received a second offer.
This position was deputy manager of a small residential home for people with learning disabilities, 15 minutes from where I live. Brilliant; the client group I love, close to home and combining my management skills from previous career, my decision had just become harder. My issues with this post were; no preceptorship and it was a non clinical role so I would not be able to use the nurse title I had spent the last three years working for. I asked both employers for a little time to make my decision when the third offer came through.
This was a post in a medium secure forensic setting for males with learning disabilities, where I have had previous positive placements, half an hour from my village and also offering preceptorship. As I knew I already had offers on the table I thought more about what I wanted from a job and asked a few more questions. Would I be supported to continue my education?
As a diploma student I really want to go on and get a degree and eventually a Masters. This was very much encouraged and because the service took students from York University, I would be able to continue studying there. I also asked about support to continue with working with The Department of Health on Strengthening the Commitment to learning disability nursing (DH, 2012) which also received an enthusiastic yes.
I went back to the other two employers and asked the same questions, so that I could make a really informed decision, one said yes to both and the other said yes to supporting me to work with the DH.
So here we go in six weeks time I will be starting my first ever nursing post as an RNLD in forensic services and I cannot wait. They offered me everything I personally require, which in turn will ensure my job satisfaction, which can only impact positively for those who will be in my care.
Don’t be afraid to ask what an employer can offer you, remember if you are invited to interview they have already spotted potential within you and it’s up to you to exploit that potential, after all it’s your career we are talking about.
Michelle Parker is our learning disabilites branch student nurse editor for Student Nursing Times.