One exam to go then I will have successfully finished my second year. It’s been a struggle, made harder by moving into my own home and getting both a new job and puppy in the space of four months but I’ve made it and I’m still functioning well - thanks largely to chocolate and energy drinks.
As third-year draws ever closer I’m beginning to examine my options ready for when I qualify - and there are many options open to me, but choosing which mountain to climb is perhaps as challenging as climbing it. I write this in the hope that my fellow student nurses - or any qualified nurses - may be able to provide me with much needed guidance on where to go next. Consider this as my plea for help.
“I write this in the hope that my fellow student nurses - or any qualified nurses - may be able to provide me with much needed guidance on where to go next. Consider this as my plea for help.”
First on my list of potential options - and many of you may think me crazy - is to do another nursing degree. I like the idea of being a dual-qualified nurse and having a wealth of skills and knowledge to aid me in my future practice. I am currently on placement at a child and young people with disabilities’ respite centre, and I love it - it is one of the most rewarding placements I have had and I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity.
Being in this environment inspired me to consider doing a second degree and be able to work, for instance, as a school nurse at a specialist school. However, on further investigation, although the universities closest to my home offer the degree, it is another three years in education; the very thought makes me want to crawl under a table and hide; plus, I am not sure I can fund it beings as the NHS bursary is no more.
“I have been considering taking a year out from doing absolutely anything and simply vanishing to a hot island some miles away”
I have been considering taking a year out from doing absolutely anything and simply vanishing to a hot island some miles away. This bright idea sparked after the sudden realisation that I have been in education for 17 consecutive years without a break. A gap year sounds like fun, and it would be nice to go to a country and volunteer in schools or hospitals that are in need of extra support. Again, money would be an issue and packing up my life for a year and moving it across the world to a county where I don’t know anyone or anything is something I don’t know if I am confident enough to do.
Obviously my final option is to be an adult and get a job. I have no issue with getting a job of course; the only problem I have is choosing which career path to go down. I currently work part-time supporting adults with learning disabilities. I love my job but I don’t know if that’s the path I wish to go down. With a learning disability nursing degree there are so many roads to take - children, adults, community, forensic, supported living, assessment and treatment or respite to name but a few.
”Obviously my final option is to be an adult and get a job”
I’ve had placements in most of the named settings and enjoyed them all. I like the idea of working with children with disabilities and feel that being able to support a child develop into an independent young adult is an opportunity I’d love to have. But at the same time I like the idea of working in a forensic setting to help individuals through challenging times in their lives.
As you probably guessed, I really don’t know what to do, and welcome any advice or experiences that could be shared to help me - and others who may be in my shoes - choose which path to take.
Rebecca Wallett is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for learning disabilities branch