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Brave Student Nurse Never Gave Up on her Nursing Degree

08th Aug, 2017

Brave Student Nurse Never Gave Up on her Nursing Degree

When financial hardship forced nursing student, Claire Carmichael to give up her place at university, her dreams of becoming a qualified nurse were left behind. But with faith, hard work and determination, she got to where she is now...

#Hellomynameis Claire Carmichael, first year student nurse. I was brought up by my nan and grandad and when I was 7 years old, my grandad was diagnosed with terminal Cancer. I was fascinated by the nurses caring for him but I didn't know how to help or what to do and, sadly, in the end he died of a heart attack. My nan told me: 'it's OK, Claire; he's that big, bright star in the sky now watching over us.' This helped me a lot I think. Even today, at 33 years old, I look out for that star. 


'It's OK, Claire; he's that big, bright star in the sky now watching over us.'


At age 15, I found out my nan had been diagnosed with Cancer too. She was told she had 12 months to live but it spread quite rapidly and she died in hospital 3 months later. Whilst she was ill, I avoided my nan. I stayed out at friends' houses a lot or went shopping...anything but face the reality of her cancer and the vile disease it is. That's my biggest regret; I will always regret not being able to do enough, not being able to care for my nan the way I should have. 

I vowed to make a change but I didn't think I was 'smart' enough to go to university or college, so I worked in a care home for the elderly and other healthcare settings for around 10 years. I worked with a girl who went on to become a nurse and she didn't even know how to boil an egg! This made me realise that if she could do it, so could I. I gathered my NVQs and went on to do my access course that got me into university. 

Attending university proved to be more challenging than I thought. I was living with my mum at the time and had to commute every day from Milton Keynes to Birmingham. I left the house at 4.30am to get the train, costing me £20 return a day. The trains would frequently be delayed or cancelled and, after around two weeks of trying to commute, I had no option but to withdraw from university. It was all too much; renting was too expensive and I had no deposit for a new place. It was the hardest decision of my life.


'I had no option but to withdraw from university'


About a year later, I managed to save enough to move to Birmingham. I started work with the sexual health and family planning clinics. Another year later, I decided to apply for nursing again. I was too nervous; my mind went blank during the interview and I couldn't even remember the 6C's. I just wasn't up to scratch and didn't get a place that year.

The next year, I applied again along with secondment at work (funded nursing degree by a company so you can return to work with them once complete). There were so many applicants and only around 10 places available. I didn't get my secondment place but I did bag a place at university! I was so happy!

So, here I am, coming to the end of my first year. It's been a tough journey along the way but I made it. For anyone planning to start the nursing course or apply, be determined, be organised and prioritise everything. It's not an easy course - there are exams, assignments and hospital placements to pass - but it will all be worth it because somewhere out there is a patient who needs you, a patient who looks forward to you arriving on shift because you have become part of their family.


'Somewhere out there is a patient who needs you'


Be proud to be a nurse. Have no regrets in life. With the stresses on the NHS these days, we all need to stand together and provide the best care we can. Remember why you wanted to become a nurse in the first place and keep that passion. Let's change the future of nursing for the better. 

 Claire Carmichael is a nursing student who never gave up on her nursing degree

Claire Carmichael is a guest writer for Your World Healthcare, providing an insight on what it's like to be a student nurse in the United Kingdom. Look out for more posts from Claire in the future! 

Are you a healthcare student who is keen to provide some insight too? Contact [email protected] and speak to us about becoming a guest writer, just like Claire!