Latest newsletter for students

Published on 23 September 2021

Read a guest article by a student nurse about their recent elective placement at the NMC

Sharleen Nkwo

Our latest student newsletter includes a guest article by Sharleen Nkwo, a third year adult and mental health nursing student from the University of Leicester.

Sharleen spoke to us about why she chose to study nursing, her recent placement at the NMC and why her course is so rewarding.  

"No matter how hard it gets, remember that there’s an extremely rewarding career at the end of the tunnel."

Why nursing?        

With every single placement I’ve been on, I face the question “why nursing?” I don’t think there’s a single answer to this question - it’s multifaceted.

Firstly, I’ve struggled with my own mental health since around the age of 11. I always wondered if there was anyone else out there who felt the way I did. I never knew who to turn to for help and it was always an internal struggle. Although I was screaming on the inside, I never felt heard.

I never wanted anyone else to feel that way, and I wanted to help others who felt the same. So mental health nursing seemed the best fit. I want to be an advocate for those who aren’t heard or don’t know who to turn to. I think the pandemic has shown that more needs to be done. I’d love to improve access to mental health services, particularly for young people.

It might sound cliché, but my mum is my biggest inspiration. She’s a registered nurse. Ever since I was little, I’ve never heard her complain about her work. She always talks about how rewarding it is.

Mental health can have a huge impact on physical health and vice versa. So, to be able to study a dual programme that covers both of these areas has been amazing. It’s been really useful in all my nursing placements and I’ve witnessed how these disciplines are connected.

Providing, leading and co-ordinating care

I’ve had a range of nursing placements, from stroke rehabilitation and breast care (such as patients with breast cancer and mastitis), to working on acute mental health wards and with community mental health teams. Recently, I had to opportunity to work at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), shadowing Senior Nursing Education Adviser, Sue West. It was incredibly insightful. I wanted to gain a new perspective on nursing and explore possible future career paths for myself. Many people have conventional ideas of nursing, such as being ward or community based.  But there’s are a variety of nursing positions out there and the NMC is a good example of this.

As a future nurse I’ll play a vital role in providing, leading and co-ordinating care that’s compassionate, evidence-based and person-centred. My placement highlighted the magnitude of co-production and working with other professionals. It also showed me how important it is to have people from a range of backgrounds with different experiences who can offer different opinions and ideas. The NMC education standards highlight the ability to work in challenging environments with innovation and continual change which I definitely did throughout my placement.

This experience also showed me the value of non-clinical nursing placements. I learnt about the importance of collective leadership and I was able to develop my own leadership skills. I also got to see how important it is to be self-aware and continually reflect on your experiences. This really helped me recognise my own strengths and weaknesses. I’ll take these learnings forward with me for the rest of my career.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion really stood out to me as a part of everything the NMC does. They’re currently working on a project called Ambitious for Change. Their 2020 report found various inequalities within different areas of health and care, including education.

As someone of Mauritian and Nigerian heritage, I’ve often felt under-represented, sometimes inadequate while studying for my nursing career. More needs to be done, and research projects like this are key in finding out how we can tackle inequalities. I look forward to the changes that will come about now and in the future. And we can be drivers for these changes too!

An extremely rewarding career

Nursing has been very difficult in recent times - that might even be an understatement. To anyone who is pursuing a career in nursing, make sure you reflect on every single moment. This will help with not only your professional development but your personal growth, too. No matter how hard it gets, remember that there’s an extremely rewarding career at the end of the tunnel. You’ll be helping to positively impact the lives of so many!

What else can I expect when I read the student newsletter?

You’ll also find an article from Sue West, our Senior Nursing Education Adviser, in which she shares advice for the new academic year, and reflects on the changes to nursing and midwifery education over the past year and the impact Covid-19 has had on students. Two midwifery students share their experience of completing an elective placement at the NMC and Shelly Stinton, interim Curriculum Lean at Coventry University, provides words of wisdom for nursing associate students. You can also meet and find out more about our education and quality assurance team.

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