UEA has a long-standing history with the NHS and whilst the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, Concrete has decided to look at how this relationship has developed over the years, and what it means to our colleagues here on campus.

It’s unclear when the school of Health Sciences opened, however in 1994 the Queens Building became its new home. In 2002 UEA opened the Norwich Medical School with 110 students enrolled. The school allowed for a closer collaboration with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. In the year previous, UEA alumnus, Sir Paul Nurse, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. He won the prize jointly with Timothy Hunt and Leland Hartwell ‘for their discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle’. The School of Pharmacy shortly followed, opening its doors in 2003.

As part of the celebrations, Concrete sought to gain an insight into what it’s like as a student healthcare professional at UEA:

  1. What is it like being a Student Nurse?

Being a Student Nurse is tough, but it’s so rewarding. The course is intense. We have to learn a lot in three years. Our terms are on average 42 weeks long, with 24 of those being in placement, and the rest being at uni! We have so many requirements to meet in such a short space of time that it can impact on friendships, relationships and family life as we can’t give up as much of our time as we may have previously. Having such a good support system has really helped me get through some of the tougher times.

It can be financially challenging. I was lucky enough to be in the last cohort to get the bursary, but even so, Student Finance doesn’t recognise that our terms are a lot longer than most so we don’t get any extra help. This means that we’ll often end up working a shift or two to be able to afford life!

Overall, this experience teaches you a lot. My confidence has increased hugely, and I have learnt some amazing clinical skills, delegation, prioritisation, time management, the importance of self care and chill days, and, most of all, what really matters in life

  1. What is the hardest part of being a Student Nurse?

The hardest bit would probably have to be writing essays whilst on placement! We work the same shifts as any full-time nurse (37.5 hours a week) as well as having all our assignments, which makes having any social life pretty difficult.

  1. What is the best part about being a Student Nurse?

This is a difficult one. I have loved the course, and learnt so much, but I can’t wait to qualify. I have two:

1) I have met so many amazing patients on my placement. As cheesy as it sounds, each one has inspired me to keep going and to achieve bigger and better things. I honestly feel like being in the position where patients trust you and can talk to you about anything is a complete blessing. As nursing students we are only see them for a short amount of time, and we may not make a huge impact on their lives, but they can make a huge impact on ours.

2) Whilst on placement we often get to meet so many nurses in new and exciting roles. When people say that healthcare is an ever-changing environment, they are not wrong! Nursing is nothing like it used to be, where you could only really work on a ward. Now there are incredible routes to amazing roles that ten years ago didn’t even exist. From nurse consultants to nurses who can perform surgery, it’s so exciting to think about where this career can take me.

  1. What does the NHS mean to you/your family?

My family is deeply rooted in the NHS. Both of my parents are doctors, and both of my grandmothers worked for the NHS – one as an Occupational Therapist the other as a nurse. The NHS has not only provided us with jobs, but with a real livelihood.


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