How I started my nursing career with RGU at 50 years-old

RGU alumna Morag decided to study nursing at age 50 to completely change her career path. She reflects on her positive time at RGU and shares insights on her current role as a Community Nurse.

What brought you into nursing?

I am fifty-six years old and prior to applying for my nursing degree, I worked in various admin/office positions for thirty years. I left my last admin role, that of an Operations Administrator for a shipping company, after nine years having successfully gained at place to study nursing at RGU, aged fifty.    

Nursing had long held an appeal, having been a medic in the territorial army for six years prior to having my family. My daughter graduated from RGU as a nurse in 2015 and always appeared to enjoy her job, despite the ups and downs of life in the NHS. 

How was your experience as a mature nursing student at RGU?

I loved my time at RGU. Feeling like the oldest student in town, I of course became well recognised around campus by fellow nursing students for that reason. But I feel that being a mature student enabled me to relate to many of my patients. Many of my younger cohort however had much more experience of caring, which I also drew upon. 

How has your career developed since graduating?

I had started nursing with a particular interest in palliative care and following a placement, which I very much enjoyed, in a cancer treatment unit, I accepted a role during Covid as a band 4 working in oncology where I went on to start my first band 5 role after qualifying in 2020. 

However, I found the work so demanding that I felt I would have more autonomy working in the community. Therefore, once I had completed the flying start programme, I applied for a role in community nursing, an area I enjoyed whilst on placement. 

I absolutely love my role in the community and no longer feel like a square peg in a round hole. As I write this, I am covering a weekend shift, of which we tend to do around one a month, and I am working bank for the Out of Hours team this evening, which involves attending to unscheduled visits throughout the city, and as far as a 12 mile radius.

I feel privileged that my role as a community nurse allows me to visit people in their home environment where I find they are more comfortable and more likely to confide concerns they may not feel as comfortable voicing in the busy ward environment. Community nursing does mean working autonomously, which is not for everyone, but you always have the support of your team if necessary. 

What would you say to current and aspiring nursing students?

A nursing degree offers so many opportunities. There are so many fields to explore and so many opportunities for career progression, if this is what you desire. I am more than happy in my current role despite being offered opportunities to undertake further study such as District Nurse or Advanced Nurse Practitioner training. 

I would advise any mature students who are considering studying nursing to apply. When I called RGU, I was concerned I had left it too late, but I was encouraged to apply, and I am very glad I did.   

Qualifying in nursing enables you to become part of such an amazing team, and I am proud to be able to say I am a community nurse, and that I love my job. 

Morag Oneill

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