Teaching in Vietnam is a world away from working on the Intensive Care unit at The County Hospital. But that’s the reality for student nurse Tom Lynch who is half way through a three year nursing degree.
The 34 year loves his second career choice and the hands on learning he gets when he’s working on the busy wards: “I like helping people and working with a team and the variety that comes with a nursing job.”
The former English teacher added: “I’ve worked on different wards across the hospital and really enjoyed the time I spent in the Intensive Care Unit. You’re caring for one or two patients who need a very high level of support and the work is incredibly interesting.”
Tom is one of 356 nursing degree students who swap the lecture theatres for the wards and come to Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals for regular placements. Another 57 people are on an apprenticeship nursing pathways at the Trust – working with the 2,300 strong team of dedicated nurses and midwives.
He is also one of a growing number of people who decide to re-train for a second career. Marta Ruszkiewicz has a degree in economics and worked as an accountant in Poland before moving to England eight years ago.
The 34 year-old, who lives in Hanover, said: “I got very bored with accountancy and really wanted to do a job that I felt made a real difference. When I came to England I worked as a healthcare assistant in a nursing home and then started the nursing degree course. I now divide my time between training at BSUH and studying with the Open University.”
With an aunt who worked as a children’s nurse, Marta had thought about this career before and said: “My placements at BSUH have been great. It’s a large trust and this gives you the opportunity to learn from nurses working in many different specialities.”
Empathy, good communications and listening skills are all vital said Marta, who added: “My favourite placement so far has been on the specialist stroke wards. The staff really make you feel part of the team and you can see incredible recoveries and follow patients as they improve.”
Mum of four Laura has taken the apprenticeship path into a nursing career. The former marketing executive gave up her expense account, and, after a few years at home with her young family decided she wanted to fulfil a childhood ambition and become a nurse.
She said: “I didn’t have any experience so I began by volunteering in a hospice which was incredible and really confirmed this was the right path for me. I then got a role as a healthcare assistant at The County. The Trust’s Education Team were really supportive and helpful and I went to night school to do my Maths GCSE, did an NVQ in Social Care and am now half way through a four year nursing apprenticeship.”
The 37 year-old from Hove is currently working with dialysis patients in the Sussex Kidney Unit and spends one day a week at university.
Laura really valued the hands on experience she got from day one of her apprenticeship and added: “The patients really are the best part of my job and make all the difference. I look at each of them as if they were my Nan, or Mum and Dad and I look after them as I would want my family to be looked after. ”