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Robyn Horgan Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Nursing - Adult, 2016

Sexual Health Nurse

Robyn Horgan's Photo

Hi, I'm Robyn Horgan and I studied the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Adult Nursing within Health Sciences at the University of Southampton.

The PG Dip teaches you to develop gold standard care and excellent practical skills. I think the emphasis the course places on critical analysis and reflection are really important, allowing you to constantly question care and reflect back on your practice.

What made you choose PGDip Adult Nursing at Southampton?

Health Sciences has a fantastic reputation and year on year it rises through the league tables for nursing. As I completed my undergraduate degree at Southampton I knew the lecturers teach to an admirably high standard. The Hartley library has an impressive collection, housing a myriad of resources with incredibly helpful staff. Also, I knew the culture of the university would mean I would have an all-round excellent experience – which I did! It’s a pretty outstanding place to learn.

With you previous degree in English literature what led you to consider the PGDip?

It may appear to be a rather random leap to go from English Literature to a Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing but there was actually a number of years between my undergraduate degree and returning for the PGDip (5 years in fact!)

During these intermediate years, my path to nursing took a number of turns including volunteering in Kenya with a group of doctors and nurses, delivering sexual health resources and education with a charity in Southampton, experiencing A&E as a clerical officer and working with vulnerable older people for a charity in Winchester. For me personally, life experience itself was really helpful in guiding me towards completing a nursing course, almost as if a jigsaw of seemingly random pieces came together.

I heard about the PGDip course through an Open Day at the University and I recall being signposted to the course when I initially asked for a prospectus. I remember thinking it would be perfect for me as it would be a step up in terms of education (the course is taught at masters level) and I would be able to complete the course in 2 years instead of 3. It is a really exciting course to be a part of as many other people come from diverse backgrounds which always made seminars and debates really interesting with lots of different points of view. I feel everyone’s life experiences informed their views, their overall practice and what they could bring to the course – with the PGDip there is a lot of scope for independent thought and study but you also learn a lot from other students (and the fantastic teaching staff of course!)

What is your current role and what does it involve?

I am now a Sexual Health Nurse working at a clinic in Reading. My role involves patient centred assessment including history taking, site testing (performing swabs and venepuncture), and microscopy of some specimens in the lab, possibly leading to diagnosis. If particular bacterial cells are identified we can provide treatment then and there, which is wonderful and so reassuring for patients. There’s an element of informal ‘counselling’ and lots of opportunities to educate which I particularly enjoy. I love the autonomy as a practitioner this role has given me.

What is the best part of your current role?

The best part is being able to focus on the entire wellbeing of each person, being able to meet the physical, emotional and psychological needs of everyone I see. I love the education element of the role and providing resources for individuals. I enjoy the new skills I have learnt including microscopy (using a microscope to identify particular cells) which is quite specialist.

What skills did you learn at Southampton that you would say have been most valuable now that you are working?

There are so many! The PG Dip course teaches you to really focus on the individual person and equips you to develop gold standard care and excellent practical skills. I think the emphasis the course places on critical analysis and reflection are really important, allowing you to constantly question care and reflect back on your practice so you can develop as an individual but also potentially develop service provision itself. At each stage of the course you are challenged to be a better and better practitioner while being well supported and guided throughout.

What advice would you give to current students thinking about studying the PGDip?

Be prepared to work hard! What you put in, you will get out. The lecturers and placement mentors are amazing so listen to all the advice and guidance given to you but don’t feel you cannot challenge it, sometimes a new perspective can change things for the better. Ask questions, there is no such thing as a ‘silly question’. Finally, the best piece of advice I was ever given on the course: “If you don’t look after yourself, you cannot look after other people”, so be kind to yourself and most of all enjoy it!

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