The Incredible Journey – PharmaTimes Magazine May 2022

Hayley Scutts reflects on an inspiring and fearless journey to a nursing career – which started as a patient

My nursing journey began in 2014. By this time I had established a decade-long career designing a range of indoor furniture, but I also found myself in hospital and at the outside with an undiagnosed illness for years.

After one of my surgeries, an advanced nurse practitioner saw me in the morning ward. She took the time to review not only my recovery from surgery, but all of my medical history.

She then went out of her way and put everything in place for me to finally get a diagnosis and the right treatment. This lady gave me my life back. She inspired me so much that until then I hadn’t realized the impact one person could have.

Every time I went to the hospital for treatment, I saw a banner “We need nurses” and that message went a little deeper each time. So I gave up my career, sold my car, signed up for a nursing access course and after passing it started a nursing degree at Oxford Brookes University .

My goal was to make a difference in people’s lives, the same way a dedicated nurse made a difference in mine.

Back to life

My first year of nursing was hectic – I got pregnant through IVF. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for years and due to complications we weren’t sure if it would be possible.

So we started our IVF journey alongside my nursing care. Unfortunately, that was not the case and we lost our baby. On the second attempt, however, we were incredibly lucky and nine months later gave birth to our son Lennon.

When Lennon was born he had to be resuscitated and spent the first few months of his life in a newborn intensive care unit in Bristol. He wasn’t expected to survive the ambulance trip, let alone the first week, but he proved everyone wrong.

We were also told he had trisomy 21, commonly known as Down syndrome. When he finally came home – and my maternity leave was over – it was time for me to return to nursing to complete the final two years of my nursing course.

Unfortunately, at this point, I was unable to afford the next two years of my degree. I was devastated by this, but we decided to make the best of it and moved to Cornwall in hopes of giving Lennon a better life.

feed a dream

I acted as an ‘independent living assessor’ for a charity, working alongside occupational therapists and physiotherapists to provide specialist mobility equipment for people with disabilities. We needed extra support with our son, so a year later we moved to Warwickshire where we were able to access more support. I joined the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust as an occupational therapy assistant and while in that role the opportunity arose to apply for the Nursing Associate Foundation degree at Coventry University.

I applied right away and was so excited to be accepted. It was my chance to be a nurse again! The course gave me the opportunity to work, earn a salary, learn and get a nursing degree. I started the Foundation Diploma in April 2018 and my passion and enthusiasm for nursing was even stronger than the day I made my initial decision.

The course came with so many different opportunities and experiences through internships and I embraced them all. I have been fortunate to take the apprenticeship route to work and learn from some of the most outstanding healthcare assistants, nurses, mentors and others in multidisciplinary teams.

The course certainly comes with its challenges and the biggest for me was balancing work, studies and family life. With the support of my lecturers, practice facilitators, and other members of my cohort, however, I pulled through. There was nothing that couldn’t be overcome, and each experience made me stronger as a nurse associate and as a person. I also made some lifelong friends along the way.

The influencer

Throughout my training, I have also devoted time to helping other members of my cohort with their university studies. Many of us had not had the opportunity to go to higher education but as I was in the first year of a nursing degree I was able to use my experience and knowledge to help others plan assignments, create their portfolios, and better understand things like SEO.

I qualified just after the coronavirus pandemic hit in late March 2020 and had applied for a position in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Warwick Hospital. It has been a difficult time for all frontline staff with so many patients being admitted with COVID-19, but I am incredibly fortunate for the support I have received from my family and the Trust.

Throughout the pandemic, staff from different fields have joined us at ICU and even though I was not there that long, I have already found myself sharing my knowledge and helping to support teaching these new staff members. Then, when I returned from the student internships, I loved working with the students, sharing my knowledge and seeing them evolve throughout their internship.

I left the Trust a year and a half later to start the complementary course, but around the same time there was an advertisement for a position as assistant lecturer within the nursing associate team at Coventry University.

I was delighted to see that this position was open to an associate nurse as I always thought that a position like this would not be an opportunity for me until much later in my nursing career. . I felt that in this role I could bring my passion for both teaching others as well as anatomy and physiology.

I also realized that as the role of Associate Nurse was still a new post within the NHS, I would be able to share my own experiences with students. I applied for the job and got the job. So I started with the associate nursing lecturer team at the beginning of October last year.

I feel very privileged to now teach students at Coventry University and to have joined a great team. I am staying on the bank of shifts at the Trust as I want to try to keep my clinical skills up to date.

The message that we need more nurses has not changed. We need more passionate and caring people to join the profession and I would highly recommend an apprenticeship as an inspirational route to this enduring profession.

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