Student blog post

Embracing my calling: A journey to nursing as a mature student

Student Melanie shares her experiences studying Nursing at Dundee.

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Making the decision to go back into education full time

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I left school, so went straight into work and earning. Over the next 12 years I worked in various roles and gained lots of valuable experience. 

Despite enjoying my work, I still had the feeling that something was missing. Looking back now, I’ve realised I always wanted to be a nurse. I’ve always wanted to help people and often found myself first on the scene at a first aid incident. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and people close to me became ill, I bit the bullet and decided to follow my dream.

I enrolled on the Access to Nursing course though the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) in 2020. After passing in 2021, I was offered a place at the University of Dundee to study a BSc in Adult Nursing.

Navigating the transition to university as a mature learner

I was excited to start my degree but also I was nervous about making the transition to university and academic life, especially as I had been out of education for several years. I was worried I wouldn’t be as clued-up as students who were coming straight from school. However, the Access to Nursing course really set me up for success and gave me a good grounding in academic learning, critical thinking and referencing. This made the transition to university so much easier.

I also have two children and was apprehensive about juggling family responsibilities as well as part time work alongside my studies. I wondered how I was going to manage everything. I also knew committing to my degree would help me fulfil my longer term career ambitions.

To support myself and my family whilst studying, I registered on the NHS staff bank, which you can do as a student nurse. It took several months to get registered but has been a good way to earn whilst studying and get additional experience.

Experience studying nursing at Dundee

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is meeting new people. It’s been interesting to get to know other students across a range of ages, with different life experiences and reasons for studying nursing.

I’ve also made a lot of friends, many of whom are mature students. I naturally found myself gravitating towards other mature students as we had more shared life experiences.

I’ve enjoyed learning new skills and the confidence it has given me.

During your first week at university, you are allocated an Advisor of Studies, who is there to support you throughout your degree. I’ve built up a good relationship with my Advisor and have found them very supportive. 

Advice to other aspiring mature students

There are lots of opportunities to get involved in social activities and clubs if that is something you want.  You can immerse yourself as little or as much as you want in university life.

Time management is very important for success. I’m the first to admit that I like to procrastinate and can be a last-minute crammer. Looking back, if I was to do anything differently, I would try and plan my time a bit better. 

I think it’s also important to remember as a mature student, you bring different, valuable experiences to the table.

When I reflect on the last three years, I feel proud of what I‘ve achieved, whilst also juggling family commitments and working part-time. I’ve become more resilient, which stands me in good stead in my future career as a nurse.

I am also a role model for my boys. They are seeing an adult, sometimes struggling but also achieving something. They will see me in my gown at graduation and I hope it will inspire them too.

Student voice category Study, Courses