• 28 April 2021
  • 9 min read

Why I Chose To Be A Mature Student Nurse And What It's Meant To Me

  • Marzena Filipiak
    Nursing Assistant & Student Mental Health Nurse
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
  • 0
  • 985
"As a student nurse, I have not only grown as a clinician, gained knowledge about physical and mental health, but also matured as a human being"

Marzena has two months left before she qualifies as a Mental Health Nurse. Many people arrive at care work in later life. Marzena had moved from Poland and had her first child. Here’s her story.

Topics Covered In This Article

Moving From Poland To The UK

Post Natal Difficulties Inspired Me To Become A Mental Health Nurse

Finding My First Job As A Support Worker

What I Did As An Assistant Support Worker

Taking Formal Qualifications In Healthcare

Working As A Nursing Assistant

Nursing Is Unique Work Of Heart And Passion

Moving From Poland To The UK

My name is Marzena. I was born in Poland and lived there until my 21st birthday.

After I left school at the age of 19 years old, I decided to study Polish philology to become a teacher.

At the same time, I worked in the restaurant, theatre, and many other places.

I had to leave university after 2 years of my training due to financial difficulties.

Therefore, my friends who lived in the UK offered that they will support me and my husband to find a job in the UK for 3 months, save some money and start our life over in Poland again.

Nevertheless, after 3 months, we decided to extend our visit in the UK, and we fell in love with England.

I worked in many warehouses and I thought that this was the end of my career.

Thanks to emotional help from many amazing people who I have met in this country, I have managed to gain some confidence back and hopefully, in a few months I will become a Mental Health Nurse.

Post Natal Difficulties Inspired Me To Become A Mental Health Nurse

On Mental Health Day in 2014, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

I was over the moon, but soon I become feeling low in mood and I could not figure out the reasons behind it.

My daughter struggled with her sleep when she was around 1 year old which had an impact on my wellbeing.

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I went to GP exhausted mentally and physically, I got in touch with the Sleep Charity. Finally, I ended up with a prescription of the antidepressant.

Now I realise that my daughter was my inspiration to work as a Mental Health Nurse.

Her birth initiated my journey of nursing, however, at that time I did not recognise it.

There were always some thoughts about working in the healthcare sector in my mind.

My dolls and teddies used to be my patients who I could nurse.

Also, I used to look after my 10 years younger brother a lot and it was something I felt confident in.

Later on, I gained some experience as a volunteer caregiver for children and in the deaf people community.

Finding My First Job As A Support Worker

I did not think that it might be enough to apply for a job in the healthcare sector.

I believed that without formal qualifications, I could not succeed at the interview.

I could not go back to my workplace after maternity leave as they did not offer me a permanent position, so organising childcare was impossible.

I was looking for a part-time job anywhere and I realised that there is a chance for me to get into the healthcare sector.

Moreover, I noticed that many employers offer flexible hours, long days, or weekend shifts which might be helpful with managing childcare between both parents.

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Do you have any questions about being a mature nursing student?

Ask Marzena questions below

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I applied for a couple of jobs and I was offered a position as an Assistant Support Worker in a care home for people diagnosed with learning disabilities and mental health difficulties.

I was over the moon, but at the same time, I felt petrified.

I still remember my first day at work- feelings of excitement, but also the satisfaction of belonging somewhere in my new home - England.

This job opened my eyes and I realised that this is something I could be good at.

I felt that my experience as a person who experience abuse and with a diagnosis of an eating disorder could be something valuable in the healthcare sector.

Instead of feeling down and vulnerable about my past, I could use my experience as my power and stand up for others who might struggle to voice their needs and thoughts. 

What I Did As An Assistant Support Worker

My role as an assistant support worker involved basic care of service users including assisting with personal care and looking after their physical and mental wellbeing, supporting people to prepare meals, assisting people to access restaurants, shops, parks in the community, organising activities, and many more.

I loved that I could have a positive impact on my clients.

I remember one day when I played football outside with one of the residents - don’t get me wrong, I’m rubbish at playing football, but I put all my heart into that game and we both enjoyed it.

Sometimes it is not about how well people can do some things, but if they are willing to focus on delivering high quality time, their heart, and kindness. 

(We have an article about how to get a job as a Support Worker here, and one about Support Worker pay here.)

Taking Formal Qualifications In Healthcare

Although I spoke English quite well, I was determined to achieve ESOL qualifications (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

That first college course initiated my education in the UK.

Later on, I passed English Functional Skills, GCSE Maths and English, Access to HE Nursing and Midwifery.

Finally, I was able to apply for a place at University to study mental health nursing at the age of 26 and it was the beginning of the not easy, but unique journey.

When I passed my first courses in college, I felt empowered and become determined to achieve formal qualifications in nursing.

Every day I was waking up, I knew that this might be the way to improve someone’s quality of life.

For me, nursing is not only a job but also my love and passion.

I got excellent support from a college advisor to apply to university and I got a place at my first-choice university.

My tutors at university were very supportive. It was a big step for me in terms of individual work and responsibility as a student nurse compares to time at college.

I was overwhelmed by academic expectations for a while.

However, I feel that this is a privilege to study in another country as a bilingual student and I will always be grateful for this opportunity.

My first placement was in the acute mental health unit.

There are lots of misconceptions about this type of ward, but I fall in love in that place.

As a student nurse, I have not only grown as a clinician, gained knowledge about physical and mental health, but also mature as a human being.

This experience also helped me to build a better, more meaningful relationship with my daughter and husband.

I have gained back some confidence as a person and realised that “if I can dream it, I can do it”.

Working As A Nursing Assistant

After my first placement as a student nurse, I got a job as a Nursing Assistant at my local NHS trust.

Being a student nurse, working as a Nursing Assistant, but also managing family life is not a simple task.

Sometimes I come back home crying, thinking many times that I want to quit, or I am not good enough to be a nurse.

Many times I feel exhausted mentally and physically.

Sometimes I used to sleep for 15 hours to make up those nights where I could not sleep or had to be on placement on nights and then do early shift at work.

The reality has changed this year, as a student nurse, I have received a training grant which has improved my financial situation a lot.

Therefore, I have managed to reduce my working hours and get more work balance in my life.

I believe that thanks to working as a Nursing Assistant, I have had more time to gain valuable experience which I can use in practice as a future student nurse.

I can polish my clinical skills, for example by taking manual blood pressure or dealing with ligature incidents on the ward.

I have more time to gain valuable experience working with patients and every day I learn something new.

Nursing Is Unique Work Of Heart And Passion

Many people say that being a nurse is like driving a car.

Although I have had many hours of clinical placements and theory input, there are many things that I still need to learn.

Nursing is a beautiful job, there are lots of things which we might learn, many specialties which we can gain, but it is not possible to know everything.

The art is to accept that as health care workers we might need help from other professionals and every day in practice might be a surprise.

I do not regret that I have decided to study nursing as a mature adult.

I think that the universe has planned my life in this way, so other experiences could shape my personality and give me a ‘can do’ attitude.

I believe that I can truly appreciate that nursing is not an easy job, but unique work of heart and passion. 

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Do you have any questions about being a mature nursing student?

Ask Marzena questions below

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About the author

  • Marzena Filipiak
    Nursing Assistant & Student Mental Health Nurse

I hope to become a qualified Mental Health Nurse in a few months. I have worked in the healthcare sector since 2016. I currently work as a bank Nursing Assistant in my local trust and volunteer as a Befriend among elderly people. I am passionate about the connection between mental and physical health. For me nursing is not only a paid employment, but also a passion of my life which I love sharing with others.

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  • Marzena Filipiak
    Nursing Assistant & Student Mental Health Nurse

About the author

  • Marzena Filipiak
    Nursing Assistant & Student Mental Health Nurse

I hope to become a qualified Mental Health Nurse in a few months. I have worked in the healthcare sector since 2016. I currently work as a bank Nursing Assistant in my local trust and volunteer as a Befriend among elderly people. I am passionate about the connection between mental and physical health. For me nursing is not only a paid employment, but also a passion of my life which I love sharing with others.

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