Casey-Leigh Watkins is a BSc Adult Nursing student. Before starting the course, she had been working as a Healthcare Assistant. She has enjoyed our central London location, and the friendly and welcoming atmosphere at the university.
What were you doing before you came to study at City?
Before I came to City, I had moved from my small hometown in Wales to London to live that big city life! In Wales, I spent a few years working as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) for various healthcare agencies before deciding to join the NHS as an HCA.
I can’t imagine a better place to experience life as an HCA in the NHS, than in London.
I joined Central North West London NHS Trust and spent about 1.5 years working in St. Pancras Hospital. My colleagues were amazing and provided me the support and encouragement I needed in order to take the next step and apply to study Adult Nursing!
How did you develop an interest in Adult Nursing and why did you choose to study this course?
I kind of ‘stumbled’ into my career choice! I was studying English Literature at another university and needed a part-time job to help me through. I ended up working part-time as a Support Worker in the community as it gave me the flexibility I needed while studying.
My interest grew from there and I never left the healthcare industry, despite gaining my qualification in English Literature. Healthcare related work feels natural to me, and doesn’t feel like a job. I loved, and still love, making a difference to people’s lives.
Why did you choose to study at City?
Once deciding to go back to university, I knew I wanted to live in London and study at a university that is in central London. I have lived in East and North London, and studying in a central location meant that I could continue to move around if I wanted to, without it affecting my studies.
When researching, I found that City was ranked 1st in London for Nursing, which definitely stood out to me. The open day really solidified my decision to attend City – I was very impressed with the campus and facilities.
What has been your favourite thing about studying this course?
I am curious about medical conditions I haven’t witnessed before. Studying Adult Nursing embraces and even encourages my curiosity. My fellow students have also been so friendly, which makes the course a little easier when you have other students rooting for you to succeed!
What is your favourite thing about studying at City?
I love City’s Northampton Square campus, it’s so central and close to Angel! The campus itself is so easy to navigate. Everyone I come across is so welcoming and the atmosphere at the university is super friendly!
How have you found the teaching and facilities on your course?
I started studying during the first Coronavirus lockdown, meaning my studies began online. Students and lecturers were both thrown in the deep end, having to navigate this new way of teaching/learning together. The staff provided plenty of support and made the best of the situation.
Although I haven’t used the simulation facilities as much as I would have liked to, the sessions I have had were great. I look forward to doing more soon.
Where have you been on your clinical placements, and what have you enjoyed most about these experiences?
I am based at Homerton University NHS Trust and have been on the wards in the outpatient department and a medical day unit so far. While all experiences were interesting and valuable, it definitely showed me what type of nurse I’d like to be.
For example, working in the outpatient department taught me that I enjoy being in a fast-paced environment where I am able to use my practical skills. I very much enjoyed learning how to do an ECG and bladder scan, and even had the opportunity to catheterise a female patient, under my nurses supervision.
How will these experiences help you with your future career?
Nursing is very practical and hands on. Being able to have these experiences on placement is extremely important – it gives you insight into what to expect when you work as a qualified nurse. While everyone gets excited at the thought of the practical side of nursing, the wounds, medical conditions, and all the lifesaving work nurses do; sometimes the more mundane side gets forgotten.
Things like paperwork and health and safety duties are equally as important. Placements give you a well-rounded experience of nursing - no details or duties spared. I feel my experiences have prepared me for the fact that I will have bad days as well as good ones – just like every other career. But the good days, and all the lives I will save makes me feel honoured to be becoming a nurse.
Have you overcome any challenges during your studies?
There have been times on placements where I’m so overwhelmed and tired, I’ve just needed a break. Mental health is extremely important to me and will always come first – if I don’t look after myself, how can I look after others? On these particular days, I make sure to talk to my mentors, my educational lead in the hospital and of course, my student nurse peers (who certainly know how I feel!)
I would take an extra break if I needed it or switched my days around to give myself more of a break in-between shifts. I’d also go home and talk it through with my partner and family members.
What kind of things are you involved in outside of your course?
Outside of being a student nurse, I am also a student ambassador and a cheerleader on the University’s Central City Allstars (CCA)! If that wasn’t enough, I am also on the cheerleading committee, as a Social Secretary. So when I’m not studying, you’ll find me working at university events or planning/hosting the social events and fundraisers for CCA.
I also really enjoy travelling but that’s hard to do at present, but I am planning a trip!
What do you plan to do after you graduate?
My honest answer is who knows. I would like to start working straight away, ideally in the Royal London Hospital. I would love to start off as a band 5 A&E or ICU nurse but I’m aware that as a newly registered nurse, that may not be possible.
Either way, I would like to start as a band 5 in a teaching hospital and work my way up the ranks. I am thinking about doing a master’s, but this depends on which NHS trust I join and what they can offer me in terms of further education.
What would be your advice to anyone considering studying this course?
I would highly recommend getting some type of nursing experience before deciding, whether that be as a healthcare assistant in a hospital or even volunteering. It is a fascinating, highly rewarding job but comes with its challenges, so take your time in considering.
Please make sure you are comfortable with things like blood, you will be exposed to bodily fluids and serious injuries but also the lifesaving wonders of the NHS.
Best of luck! It really is a lifetime career, we will always need nurses in the world!