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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Clara Markiewicz Child Nursing 2019

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We have had a very broad range of lectures which has made for a very interesting first year. I have started to feel like I am growing into a nurse which is very exciting.

Why did you choose to come and study at the University of Southampton?

I chose to study at the University of Southampton because I loved the School when I came for the selection day - they were so warm and welcoming and spoke so openly about accommodating everyone, with all sorts of needs. This was a great relief as I had been unwell a few years before with ME and was worried about going to a university that would not understand or care about taking these kind of needs into account, especially for placement.

Were you nervous or excited about anything in particular before coming to Southampton?

I was a little bit nervous and excited about everything! I deferred my place as I went to work abroad for a year with the refugees crisis in Calais, Lesvos and Lebanon so I guess by the time I came here I had overcome the fear of moving out and leaving home! But I was nervous yes, mainly because this was the degree I had been working towards doing most of my life and it was suddenly finally happening so that was quite a lot of emotions all rolled into one. I was also anxious about settling back into Western culture after spending so much time away and I found it quite a shock to go straight to uni but my tutors and the support services here have been amazing at helping me to settle back down.

Once at Southampton, how were your expectations met or fears overcome?

My tutors and the support services here have been fantastic - I was quite anxious about settling back into studying after such a busy intense year with a lot of emotional stress but I have not once felt alone with it all and have always had someone here I could turn to, from day one.

I became ill during my first placement and for a while I was very concerned, again my tutor and module leads have gone above and beyond to make sure I got all the support necessary and made sure I did not stress about my work (something I tend to do!).

I have also been fortunate enough to live with some wonderful girls and study in yet another lovely group of people who have always been there to chat worries through or simply have a pyjama day with if need be! Really the people here, from the students to tutors, have been so wonderful and made my studies so positive so far.

What is it like studying here?

The university as a lovely communal feeling about it and as it has been getting warmer it has been lovely to have so much green space to sit in for a brief break from working!

We have had a very broad range of lectures which has made for a very interesting first year, and the best part is that the lecturers are always up for long chats at the end if you need to clarify anything or want to understand more. I also use the gym a lot and love being able to just walk there from halls and have everything one would need. I also use the library a lot when doing assignments.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ so far?

My first nursing placement at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) was amazing. It was tough, and the hours were long, but I learnt so much in those eight weeks and put so much theory and biological knowledge into practice. I also had the chance to watch a 7 hour spinal surgery which was my first time in theatre not as a patient and it was fascinating. I had the chance to speak to top surgeons, consultants and anaesthetics. I felt respected and a part of the team the whole time, which was wonderful and really moral boosting!

How has your time at Southampton helped you to grow as a person?

I have started to feel like I am growing into a nurse which is very exciting as I have been dreaming of this for years. I also feel like my academic writing skills are improving which is something I wanted to develop.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

I love biology, so I have really enjoyed the A and P (anatomy and physiology) module and then using that knowledge during my first placement. I have also loved lectures where we explore the sociological and psychological effects of a hospital stay on patients and how we as nurses can help to make the experiences, and subsequently the memories, far more positive.

What is the city of Southampton like to live in?

I like living here, the bus services are great and mean it is really easy to get pretty much everywhere. I have never felt unsafe, even when walking back late at night with friends. There are lots of shops at West Quay which is often a fun weekend activity when everyone needs a bit of retail therapy!

Also there are lots of cute cafes which I take my friends from back home in London to which is lovely and actually two of my best friends have decided to start studying here in September which is very exciting.

What made you want to become a nurse?

Aged 4 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia called Acute Myeloid Leukaemia which meant I spent 6 months in hospital needing 4 rounds of chemo and 7 operations. Hospital and the nurses became a home from home for me, I guess it had to be. I was very young and being cut off from the rest of the world and everyone in it the nurses became the people I lived with. Little girls look up to the ‘big girls’ and I was in awe of the nurses, many of whom were not much older than I am now. They somehow made a horrible experience positive and I cannot think of anything more amazing - to be able to give that back to other children.

As I grew up, I could not think of any other profession I could see myself doing. It had always been nursing.

Do you have any particular aspirations for the rest of your time at University, and/or for your career after you qualify?

I would love to become a cancer nurse and hope to be able to spend a placement on a cancer ward, and my love of biology had always driven me to think about going into cancer research. However, after my work with refugees last year and seeing the dire need for medical help abroad as well as health promotion and education, I am very keen to do aid work and will for sure want to spend some time away with MSF or Doctors without Borders. 

Two very different things and not sure how it will all work out right now but I am very excited! Who knows where I will be in 10 years - I guess that is the best part!

Further thoughts:

For prospective nursing students - going into nursing seems like a daunting prospect especially these days but I cannot stress enough what a rewarding career this can be. You work for the smalls things - like a thank you from a patient or the chance to do/learn something amazing that you never thought you would be able to do. This degree pushes you emotionally and physically, that is for sure. But I would not do anything else. It is amazing to know you are helping even during your studies and placements give you the chance to work with people and make a difference from the word go.

From experience, I also know how amazing a nursing degree is for working abroad with people and cultures you may never have considered. It open so many doors!

Why nursing?

Clara explains her passion for nursing and what drove her to pursue this amazing profession

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