Kingston University graduate reflects on transition from nursing student to newly qualified nurse

Chelsea Barrett graduated from her degree in adult nursing at Kingston University in September 2022. Almost one year later, she is working as a nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, supporting cancer patients. Here, she reflects on how Kingston prepared her for the transition from nursing student to newly qualified nurse.

Since leaving Kingston University, I’ve left with a degree and many wonderful memories. I’ve had the opportunity to travel with my friends to celebrate completing three years of work. I accepted a job at an NHS Trust working in an acute setting. At the time, I was both excited and nervous knowing I wouldn’t be a student anymore.

As a nurse, I conduct physical and psychological assessments, administer medications and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide compassionate care. The job is, however so much more than that. I really enjoy playing a vital role knowing I can make a difference to people’s lives. I think it’s a privilege to hold someone’s hand at their most vulnerable times and know they trust you.

Ten months on, I have entered a new transitioning role, which means I am finishing my chemotherapy training before rotating to a band six role. I will be specialising in oncology and haematology; two areas of nursing I’m really passionate about. I felt apprehensive when applying because I had just qualified a few months earlier. But when I found out I’d been successful, I was proud that I’d put myself forward and believed in my abilities. Since then, I’ve thrived as part of a wonderful team.

My favourite part of the adult nursing course at Kingston University was the skills and simulation modules. The skills team showed us how to put our learning into action, which really prepared us for reality as a practising nurse. This taught us how to operate in a clinical setting and provided a space to make mistakes.

One lesson that really impacted me was patient care after death. Learning how to care for a patient who has died in a safe setting with compassionate guidance prepared me as much as possible. Hospitals see life and death enter and leave this world and I’ve learnt that it’s a beautiful cycle to witness.

We are taught by experienced nurses who have come from many types of nursing careers, which helped us as students see the range of pathways we could pursue. Some other key skills we learnt included basic life support, A&E response and community simulations.

The personal tutor scheme was really beneficial for me. As an international student, I found it hard to focus on my studies as well as dedicating time to going home, especially during lockdown. My personal tutor Emily Marron was aware of this and really took on a caring role to check in with me throughout the pandemic. She encouraged me to work hard and taught me the skills to manage my workload. I see her support as instrumental to my success.

Her mentoring had such a profound impact on me that I have maintained a relationship with Kingston University. The university has kept a special place in my heart and I aim to follow in her footsteps and play a mentoring role for other aspiring nurses.

I think it’s important to recognise that nursing can be a selfless and difficult job but the reward you get from helping others makes the difficult moments so worthwhile. I always aim to find balance and remember the humbling moments I observe day to day.

My childhood was spent looking after a family member. Putting others’ needs before my own has become second nature and a characteristic I’m proud of. Becoming a nurse has only nurtured those traits further and means I can dedicate my life to what I do best. I chose nursing because I wanted to surround myself with people who care about the world around them too. I’ve truly found that.

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