Katie Green

May 22, 2024, by Ryan Neal

Life at UoN as a mature student

Mature student Katie Green, who is about to graduate with a degree in Child Nursing, talks to us about what it’s like to be a mature student at the University of Nottingham. She shares some useful insight and some words of wisdom for anyone considering embarking on a degree as a mature student.

What made you decide to study Child Nursing at UoN?

I chose UoN to study Child Nursing because they have been teaching nursing successfully for 30 plus years. Their academics are made up of a variety of professionals who all come from different working areas of nursing, with some having speciality knowledge around subjects such as intensive care and cardiac conditions. The academics presented as friendly and engaged during open days and made me feel welcome right from the moment I entered the building. The employment rate for UoN graduates was also greater than that of surrounding universities.

What was your background prior to studying at UoN, and how do you think this prepared you for your studies?

Prior to starting my journey with UoN, I worked in retail for seven years, before pursuing care work, where I worked on the bank for my local hospital, as well as in the community, and at a mental health nursing home. Working in retail, believe it or not, has proven to be my biggest assistance when coming into nursing. By working in retail, I was able to develop better communications skills and was exposed to a variety of people from different backgrounds, as well as people who had medical conditions or learning disabilities and/or difficulties which required further assistance when shopping. This allowed me to develop my empathy and understanding of people’s struggles and assisted me in leaning how to approach difficult situations with a kind and thoughtful manner.

Working in retail also exposed me to tougher situations, such as confrontation, which encouraged me to learn conflict management and how to remain calm and ensure I am always safe. It also made me more aware of families and how they functioned and communicated with one another, helping me to learn the positives and negatives to everyday functional families. This was vital as it made me think about ways I could better care for and support families like these in the future.

How have you found the experience of being a mature student at UoN?

As a mature student at UoN, I have found that I was greatly supported by my academics. They always made time for me and talked me through tasks which I may have found difficult getting my head around. My personal tutor was also my greatest support during my journey, and she often made check-ins with me to make sure I was okay, especially after going through a difficult situation whilst on placement. The university also offers many mature student-based support groups, all of which are informal and designed to help mature students come together and build a support network. Unfortunately, I was not able to experience these much during my journey due to COVID, but I have heard many good things about these support groups from other mature students. However, I did experience a fantastic online mature student support group during the COVID period through KickStart, which is a mature student-based group offered to all mature students at the start of their university journey.

What is your biggest challenge as a mature student, and how have you overcome this?

Being a mature student can be difficult, especially when trying to balance university work, placements, my wonderful daughter, and general life and social life. I have sometimes found this balance very overwhelming. After struggling with it for so long, I began to set time aside for each thing. I made sure to block off one day a week which was purely for me, whether that was to enjoy time with friends and family, a day out with my daughter, or just time to myself to read a book. I also blocked out time to complete academic work in. This encouraged me to start assignments early and break them down into smaller chunks, instead of one big task, and it assisted greatly in helping me feel more settled and prepared. I also took steps to make sure I didn’t keep my emotions bottled up. I made it a point to talk through what I was thinking and feeling with someone I trusted, often a friend, and this helped me feel more relieved and less overwhelmed. It is always a comfort to know that you are not the only one struggling with the balance.

Another challenge I faced with being a mature student was my own confidence. I spent a lot of time doubting my choices, feeling uncertain of the path I had taken. Moving away from a job with a secure income to university was daunting, and I had periods where I wondered if I had made the wrong choice. I found many of us mature students felt the same way. We also all doubted our skills and abilities, but with help from academics, peers, and practice supervisors, I found my confidence improved and I began to feel more stable in my choices and abilities. Now I am five weeks away from qualifying as a children’s nurse, and it was 100% the best decision I ever made for myself.

What has been your greatest achievement at UoN?

During my time at UoN, I have been able to accomplish so much. I was able to undertake an internship between year 2 and 3 – where I successfully gained a teaching award (AFHEA) – I took part in research, which was then published, I assisted in improving student experience, and I helped to adjust the curriculum. I was also shortlisted forthe Student Times Nursing Awards in the category of Student Nurse of the Year: Children.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering enrolling on a university course as a mature student?

Just do it. As mature students, we have so much to offer. We are keen for our careers, we are determined, we are capable. Taking that first step is scary, but it will all be worth it in the end. You are destined for so much more; you just have to take that chance and be willing to accept the support where you need it.

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