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Aileen Keigher

'Sincere thanks to each and every one of the staff there for making me feel so welcome.'

Please tell us about your background prior to starting the course?

I trained as a general nurse in Ireland from 1991-1994 where I qualified with Honours. I consolidated my training by working for a year in the hospital I trained in. I then went on to do my Midwifery training from 1995-1997 when I qualified and once again consolidated my training in the same hospital. Towards the end of 1997, beginning of 1998 I worked as a midwife at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. I was always drawn to the autonomy of practicing community midwifery and home births which took me to London in September 1998.

I have spent the past twenty years working as a Band 7 Community Midwife Team Leader in a north London hospital where I have gained huge experience and developed many skills as an autonomous practitioner, working within the hospital and community setting. I also did numerous courses during that time which further enhanced by skills as a midwife. I managed a team of 10 midwives where I gained huge experience in leadership skills and managerial skills. It was a dynamic team that was innovative and always sought ways to improve services.

What were your main motivations to apply for this course?

Over the past two years I found myself wanting to get back to basics - nursing basics. I found that when you reach the managerial level within the NHS you begin to lose your clinical skills as there is so much more emphasis on paperwork, audits, meetings, etc. I was desperate to find that reason why I went into this profession in the first place. I needed confirmation that I had made the right choice career wise as I had definitely felt something was missing in recent times. Because I had worked as a midwife for so long, I had let my nursing registration lapse, so decided to complete the Return to Practice Nursing Course in September 2018 which I completed in December 2018 and re-joined the Nursing register in January 2019. Going back to the wards and going back to basics was hard work but it gave me the affirmation of why I entered this profession in the first place. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement and completing this course has opened up so many doors. My future is looking brighter than it did and I feel very blessed that I can now use my knowledge, skills and experience in both Nursing and Midwifery settings. I now have the best of both worlds - so to speak.

Why did you choose to study at City, University of London?

I chose to study at City because it was one of the closest universities to where I reside that was offering the course. As an employee of the Whittington Hospital, I was aware that there was a good affiliation between City University and the Whittington Hospital with regard to placements and supporting students on placements. This was extremely encouraging to me and reassuring because when you start a new role which is quite daunting at the best of times, it's nice to know that the people you go to for support are experts in their field.

Can you tell us about your practice placement experience at Whittington Health?

I extend huge thanks and gratitude to the Whittington Hospital for facilitating my journey back onto the register but most importantly I want to say a massive thank you to Mercers Ward.

Sincere thanks to each and every one of the staff there for making me feel so welcome.

I had a brilliant mentor who was so patient and thorough in her teaching and advice - invaluable! Huge thanks to the Ward Sister for also taking me under her wing and sharing her experiences with me. The Clinical Facilitator was always there when I needed her and organised fantastic drop-in sessions for students to attend on a regular basis to discuss how placements were going. She was extremely approachable and supportive.

It really was a wonderful experience and the staff there all work so hard for their patients. I feel very grateful to have been part of the team for a short time.

How did you manage the transition to studying alongside working?

I was so determined to complete this course, I had myself prepared to just knuckle down and focus. I actually really surprised myself because I found returning to nursing so enjoyable and the studying we had to do was so relevant to the course, it wasn't so much hard work as I thought. I enjoyed learning and updating my knowledge and as a student who had actually never left the medical profession, I was also reassured that my professional standards and basic nursing care were just as good now as they were when I first trained as a Nurse.

My Mentor was brilliant and facilitated my study in a very positive way. The University and lecturers were also very supportive with regard to reviewing essays etc prior to submission to ensure I was on the right track. I learned very quickly that what YOU put in YOU get back. I also have to mention my husband and family who were extremely supportive in allowing me the time to complete what needed to be done for this course.

Is there any advice you would give to people thinking about studying this course?

This course gives you the freedom to get back into Nursing and follow whatever path you desire. Completing this course doesn't mean that you have to work 12 hour shifts on a ward - unless you want to. It can open up a whole new world. You can specialise in any area that you wish or go on to further your career by doing other courses to enhance your skills in specific areas. It is hard work juggling studying and placements and family/home life but it can be done with a lot of support that is available.