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Ellen Neilson BN Nursing (Child), 2016

Paediatric Staff Nurse at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

Ellen Neilson's Photo

Hi, I'm Ellen and I studied Child Nursing at the University of Southampton.

I found clinical placements the most fundamental part of my undergraduate study. Each one of them allowed me to progress with my confidence, competence and passion for paediatric nursing and prepared me in becoming a Staff Nurse.


What made you select the University of Southampton for your undergraduate study?

I chose to study at the University of Southampton for a range of reasons; my Mum, cousin and brother had all done their undergraduate study there and every time I went to visit them the area and atmosphere really attracted me. Southampton was also incredibly well known as a top University for my chosen course, and I felt as if it was an area far enough for me to move out of my family home but close enough to pop home as much as I wanted!

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

Southampton fulfilled every expectation I had about studying at University; every aspect was exactly how I imagined it would be, ranging from my lectures on campus to the night life. The layout of the campus gives you everything you need; lecture theatres, halls of residence, the library and local shops are all in same location so you feel you’re part of a community. Lectures would always give you an opportunity to catch up with friends, and the atmosphere in the library was very positive. I actually use to enjoy spending my day in the library writing my dissertation whilst running back and forth to the café to get a coffee.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I most enjoyed my practical placements throughout the course as they gave me opportunities to feel like a nurse, and turned all the theory I had learnt in my lectures into practical skills, in a healthcare environment. I also enjoyed the relationships and friendships I built throughout my time on the course, as you spend so much time with your peers, you couldn’t help but become best friends.

Were there any modules that you particularly enjoyed?

My favourite module was the ‘Acute Care Needs’ module we completed in Year 2. It was the module where I learnt the most and felt engaged with the lectures.

How useful did you find your clinical placements?

I found clinical placements the most fundamental part of my undergraduate study. Each one of them allowed me to progress with my confidence, competence and passion for paediatric nursing and prepared me in becoming a staff nurse. My fifth clinical placement was in area I would never have considered working in once I qualified, however I enjoyed it so much it became my aspiration to work there again.

Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities that provided skills that you have used since finishing your course?

In 1st year I was part of the Vixen’s cheerleading team at Southampton that I loved. I had just come to University and I found it such a great way to meet people and improve on working in teams. Every day at work as a nurse we rely on teamwork to care best for our patients, and I feel as if having a part in this society allowed me to build these skills.

What is your current profession?

My current profession is a Paediatric Staff Nurse in the Children’s Emergency Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

How do you feel that your course prepared you for employment?

In third year we had a designated “Employability Week” where we had lectures and sessions from multiple different health professions, advising us on how to present ourselves in our applications and job interviews. This week was so incredibly helpful as we also got to attend a careers fair where we met future employers who were representing their healthcare trusts; this was all organised by the University and I am so grateful to them as they allowed me to meet my future employers. One of our lecturers also released a book on building a career in healthcare which truly helped me in my job interviews.

Do you have any plans for your future career progression?

I aim to complete a Masters in Emergency Department Nursing within the next couple of years, and potentially work overseas for a while as a nurse.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate?

The main tip I would give students looking to start a career in nursing is to surround yourself with people who will support you in every way, and cheer you on from the very beginning. It is an incredible tough course but becomes so worth it when you have people around you willing to help you out. They also should try to stay open-minded; there are so many sections within nursing that you can become a part of, and should always be willing to try new things as by doing that may lead you to find your passion. As student nurses we are lucky as there is such a high employability rate but to make themselves more employable when they graduate but they should take everything the course has to offer and use their clinical placements to the best of their ability. The University really knows what they are talking about when it comes to employability, so most importantly listen to them!

What advice would you give to a student starting their undergraduate study at Southampton?

I would tell any student starting at Southampton to try everything the University offers them and to really throw themselves out there. Go to lectures, join societies, and go on nights out with people you don’t know; as they could become your best friends. Take everything you can from the opportunities you are offered as University of Southampton was the best thing to ever happen to me.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of graduating from a Russell Group University with a 1st class degree when I was told at school I would never even make it into Higher Education! Thank you Southampton!


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