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'Applying for nursing was my way of hitting control, alt, delete'


Going to university, for the second time, was never an easy decision to make.


Stephen McKenna

I had it all: a steady income from a glamorous law firm, glitzy Christmas parties, 9-5 in a comfortable office and the security of a full time job. What more could I want out of life?

Just over 2 years ago this is what I started to ask myself. I began to question my rationale for staying in a job I wasn’t truly happy in.

A walk in the park with a close friend was the reality check I needed: she put it to me; either change the direction I am heading in life, or suck it up and get on with it. I choose the former.

The application process for university was like déjà vu for me. I had been there; done that, got the fresher’s week T-Shirt, but this time it felt much more like I was preparing for the start of something big.

This is was my own life version of ‘Ctrl, Alt, Delete’!

“I could finally be honest with people and share my plans”

Once I was accepted onto the course the next stages have been all about preparing myself for the journey.

The first thing I did was quit my job, which was both nerve wracking and exhilarating in equal measure. The day I handed my notice in I realised there was no turning back; it was all or nothing. The simple act of handing that letter into my boss was such a weight off my shoulders. I could finally be honest with people and share my plans.

Like a lot of mature students I have things like a mortgage and bills to worry about, as well as a miniature Dachshund with an insatiable appetite to feed. Therefore I needed to start planning an income to subsidise my bursary. For me this has been the priority. I have been looking feverishly over the past few months for opportunities to make a little extra cash.

Unfortunately most care agencies wouldn’t take me on as I don’t have six months ‘recent healthcare experience’.

My role in St John Ambulance as an Emergency Transport Attendant doesn’t seem to count. Bizarrely, it seems voluntary medical work is worthless when it comes to experience!

“With the financial side of things relatively under control, I have started to look ahead to what university life can offer”

Thankfully I have found an agency that did take me on and I hope to soon start part time work. This has at least taken the pressure off.

I also do role acting for the emergency services; it pays well and gives me a chance to experience life on the edge.

With the financial side of things relatively under control, I have started to look ahead to what university life can offer and have been trawling the university homepage for ideas.

Having never been involved in anything remotely sporty, I am determined to turn it all around. I have already made enquiries into joining the men’s rowing club, as well as make use of student membership at the gym. I’m hoping sports will provide the discipline I need to stay focused and driven.

I have also been stockpiling medical books that friends and family offer me. Medical books are very expensive, so I figured if I get a head start I’ll be prepared and save myself a little bit of money. On the topic of saving I have already received my NUS student discount card! A little bit of advice – get it now before the rush!

Finally, from someone who has been to university already I would say, enjoy it all, take advantage of EVERY opportunity you are given and don’t be nervous. The experience of university is in itself one of the best forms of education you can get.

How are you preparing to start your nursing course?


Stephen McKenna is about to start 1st year studying adult nursing at Queens University, Belfast


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