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'I'm excited to start the 'Year to Care' scheme'

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The benefits and drawbacks of the Year to Care scheme have been much debated, but for Chloe, it represents a chance for her to find her calling

This week I began the pilot Year to Care pre-nursing scheme at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. For one year, I will be working full time as a nursing auxiliary, gaining paid experience in a hospital environment, before applying to study nursing at university. I will be completing the same duties and clinical tasks as full-time permanent medical staff, and providing the same patient care and emotional support as them. This is terrifying.

When I was younger, I never wanted to be a nurse. The thought never even passed through my head. I didn’t have “My First Doctor’s Kit”. I didn’t play doctors and nurses and I didn’t know anyone in the medical field. I was shy and liked reading the Famous Five books. When I grew up I wanted to be Timmy the dog.

There was no plan, no direction, and as a result, I finished university and ended up working for a well-known pub chain. I saw the advert for Year to Care by accident, while flicking through a copy of the Birmingham Mail that a customer had left behind. I was curious but doubtful because of my lack of traditional care experience. Reading further, I realised the skills the trust were interested in were the same skills I had already spent years developing, talking to people about their lives and interests, making them feel relaxed and comfortable and building relationships.

This type of care is essentially the same across all fields - clinical skills can be taught but care can only be learnt with experience.

Naturally I have fears. I’m worried about having never worked in a hospital environment before, that I will get in the way and be a spare part. I know that I am beginning a massive learning curve and that it will take time to settle in and it is natural to be nervous, but currently the task ahead feels incredibly overwhelming. There is so much responsibility facing me that I am both excited and intimidated, but what I fear most of all is looking back and realising that this was all a terrible mistake. 

But right now, this seems unlikely.

I am genuinely excited to go to my ward and get stuck in. I have high expectations for this year. I want to have found my ‘calling’, the thing I want to do for the rest of my life. For this to happen, I need to feel supported by the trust.  So far, I have a very intense and diverse training schedule for the year, covering everything from mental health to phlebotomy, even interview techniques. I expect to learn, to be in an environment where learning is proactive and encouraged, to be taught and to absorb.

But what I want the most is to go to work every day and love what I do.


Chloe Marsh is just starting the Year to Care scheme at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham

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