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This is a guest blog by Kylie Baker, BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing student at Bournemouth University’s Yeovil Campus.

My nursing journey started at 39 years old, having been a lawyer and then working in pastoral care. I am also a gymnastics coach, having coached regionally for the Southwest. Funnily enough, all these areas have given me attributes that I have been able to use as strengths in my nursing career. As a single parent with two near teenage children, I wasn’t sure whether going back to university at this time in my life was a brave or crazy decision. I am pleased to say it was a brave decision and proved to be one of the best I have ever made.

Highlights of my course have been the variety of learning and placements. My placement with St. Margaret’s Hospice showed me the art of effective communication and making sure that each person and their family are cared for as individuals. The outstanding care experience led me to nominate St. Margaret’s Hospice for community placement of the year at the Student Nursing Times Awards. The awards ceremony was exciting, it showed me the pride there is in the country in being a nurse and how much it means to people when they feel valued.

Kylie is wearing a bright green hazmat suit outdoors with blue skies overhead and red brick buildings around her

Kylie wearing a hazmat suit

My friend, Ellie Pollard, and I were the first Bournemouth students to take on the Leadership Placement with Health Education England (now merged with NHS England). This placement gave me lots of opportunities to challenge myself and enabled me to understand the bigger picture of nursing and health service. I was able to experience clinical days which included learning from the Emergency, Preparedness, Resilience, Response (EPRR) team at Salisbury District Hospital where I had the opportunity to wear a hazmat suit and attend a mass casualty exercise.

Part of the placement was our project on student identity and the importance of being known by name, #MoreThanTheStudent. This project taught me that you can achieve more than you thought with hard work and great teamwork. Little did Ellie and I know when starting the project where it would lead. We have now presented it to the Southwest Placement Leads and have been asked to present our idea at a number of other events in the coming months, including to representatives from the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC).

The course is not easy and takes a lot of dedication and resilience. There have been moments of overwhelm, self-doubt, and a lot of self-reflection. There has been blood, sweat and tears (and not just on placement). I overcame challenges by learning how much I can achieve by digging deep, finding that bit extra and learning to work in the way that was best for me. Friends and family, colleagues, the team at Yeovil and academic staff at BU picked me up when I wobbled and helped give me confidence when I achieved.

Kylie is smiling at the camera inside a car

Kylie Baker

It has been three years of constant learning. I have been fortunate to learn from nurses and healthcare professionals both in an academic capacity at BU and on placement. I have learned so much about how people need to feel valued. I am very grateful to every patient and every family who understood my need for learning and included me in their consultations and procedures. Their kindness will stay with me as I progress through my career.

Moving forward, in the short term I am excited about continuing to present mine and Ellie’s student identity campaign and making this as effective and successful as we can. Longer term, my consolidation placement is in critical care, and I am the first BU student to consolidate at Bath Royal United Hospitals. I am hoping to become an intensive care nurse and potentially, in time, look at becoming a specialist nurse in organ donation.

My advice for prospective students looking to get into nursing is go for it and take the first step. Whether you are changing direction like I did, or you are looking for a course after finishing school, nursing can lead to so many opportunities. There are so many different areas of nursing that there is something to appeal to everyone and nurses have opportunities to travel the world working.

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