- 09 October 2018
- 7 min read
Why I decided to become a nurse
Grace explores why she became a nurse and the steps she took and hopes it will help others choose to do the same
My name’s Grace and I'm a children's nurse.
The first thing that I was considering when I was thinking about going into nursing was trying all the different paths that were related or other different jobs that I just thought that I would enjoy.
When I was in school I was interested in two things; working with people and business.
They were my main two. I either really wanted to work with people, children in particular, or I really had just a keen passion for business.
For work experience I tried all of these different things out. I went to a primary school and worked with children for two weeks which I absolutely loved.
I didn’t want to be a teacher but I wanted to work with children.
Next I went to a mental health crisis recovery unit. I was really lucky because they only accepted two people every year and I applied for it and I was one of the people that managed to go there.
I felt that I really enjoyed the healthcare setting but I just didn't really feel that working with adults was for me.
I couldn't really cope working in a mental health environment either so this was helping me narrow my choices down.
Finally I worked in an office for a small company based in Cardiff. I just didn't enjoy it at all. They were so friendly but I was basically doing paperwork.
I just did not enjoy working in an office environment at all; I didn't like being sat down, I missed the interaction with everybody that I'd had on the other placements, so from there I thought about what amalgamates the things that I'm enjoying the most.
At this point I kind of either landed on physiotherapy or nursing.
So, I talked about it with my family a little bit more and then I decided that I really felt children's nursing was going to be for me.
I would advise you to try out a few things that you enjoy even if you can go and do some unpaid work for like a day or two.
Try it out alongside your regular job or if you're still in school use that as your work experience to go and see what you actually enjoy, because you might find that nursing is definitely going to be for you or there might be something along the way that you love even more which is amazing once you've tried other things.
If you want to become a nurse but have already settled yourself in a career, no worries - here's how to change your career and become a nurse.
My first steps were to obviously make sure that I was taking the right subjects at school so that I could get into nursing.
This will be the same for you if you're still at school, or you are able to do an access to nursing course where they will teach you everything to get you prepared for your nursing degree.
Or if you just go on a university website and you can see what their requirements are for nursing school.
They look for some kind of health care or science accreditation of some sort for you to be able to go on and apply through UCAS Nursing.
I also got a part-time job at Medicare when I was 16. Medicare is a child friendly shop so we had lots of parents and families come in all the time.
It was nice to interact with them. We did family days and that just really helped me to decide that I definitely wanted to work with children and it also looked okay on my CV as part of my work experience because I'd been part-time at Medicare for about two years by the time I put my UCAS application in.
Read a quick guide to becoming a RGN to find a more in depth guide to becoming a nurse.
Getting the right experience
Getting a little bit of relevant experience will also grow in your favor if you are already working.
I applied through UCAS Nursing and I applied for several different universities.
When you apply through UCAS you need to have a personal statement.
In your personal statement you want to really sell yourself. All your experiences and any experience that you've had in the industry you want to go into, so whether it's adult, child, mental health, or learning disability nursing, if you've got some experience in that, put it in.
My changed perceptions of nursing - then and now
My expectations for nursing were really different at the start compared to how I view nursing now.
Having been qualified three years and obviously doing 3 years of studying in nursing, I can't say I knew what to expect but I just imagined working with children and like-minded adults.
Children are so resilient and upbeat and I just thought that I was going to really enjoy going into such a caring profession.
My grandma was actually a nurse in London in the war and I kind of just imagined her being a nurse and just really wanted to keep it alive within my family.
It felt like I almost had a calling to it like there was just going to be a really strong bond for me to go and be a children's nurse.
I just didn't realize how incredible the profession is.
When I first went into it it's a lot more hard work than I imagined. I didn't really expect the shift work and the long days and doing assignments while you're still working and leaving work late.
I didn't quite expect that but I knew that it was for me.
No, I really do like shift work - it helps deliver continuity of care
The thing I didn't expect within nursing is that I now love working shifts. When I started I thought that working shifts was horrendous and I was going to be very tired all the time, whereas in actual fact I loved working shifts because I really like being there with a family and a patient for a whole 12 and a half hours.
You really got to know them and build amazing relationship with them and if you're there for maybe two days and a night shift in a row and you're able to go back you have such good continuity of care.
You know what's going on with that patient so you can give them the best care you can. I just really like that about shift work, you've got a few days off generally to recover afterwards as well and recuperate from maybe a very difficult or an emotionally intense situation.
You've got those days off afterwards to relax and you also have days off in the week as well as the weekend.
It chops and changes so I do like that about shift work even though you're not always guaranteed to be able to see your friends sometimes on a Friday evening.
There's generally not anybody looking over your shoulder telling you what to do and when to do it, you can sort it out yourself.
I love how challenging it is, and the children are amazing. I just feel really privileged to be looking after a family that are in such a low time, to be able to be there and to support them and to feel trusted, and for them to let you in, just feeling like you've made a difference and you've given good care is really fulfilling.
Check out my 5 favourite nursing experiences to see how much of a rewarding career it is.
Difficult, draining, tough, underpaid and yet I love it
You can tell that nursing is an amazing profession because it's difficult, it's emotionally draining, it's very tough, the pay is not great and people continue to nurse and they continue to want to be nurses every single day.
People apply for nursing, people stay within the profession because there's really no career like it.
I hope that you can see from the bottom of my heart that I absolutely love being a nurse and I never pictured it being such a huge part of my life.