When Rachel Bray walked through the doors at the University of Worcester three years ago, she was embarking on a life-long ambition to become a nurse.
Now Rachel is a nurse in the Evesham Neighbourhood Team, providing care in the community, and will graduate this November.
“I’m sat here in my nurse’s uniform and I still can’t believe I have done it,” said the mother-of-three. “I’m just in the right place doing what I should be doing. To someone else thinking about a nursing career, I would just say go for it, it’s never too late, and also take it a day at a time.”
The 41-year-old initially did a degree that led on to a career working with people with learning disabilities.
Rachel stopped working in 2005 after having her first son, who was very unwell, and became his full-time carer and stayed at home for eight years. She worked as a breastfeeding counsellor, a doula, supporting women with their pregnancy, and hypnotherapist. However, Rachel had always wanted to be a nurse and in 2014 she decided to pursue this career.
“I sat down with the kids and said ‘tell me what you think about me studying to be a nurse’ and they all cheered,” said Rachel, of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. She applied to Worcester as she had heard about its reputation in healthcare and started two weeks later.
“It was really hard work, but I absolutely loved it,” she said. “It was such a brilliant course. I made some amazing friends and we all just got each other through it. The tutors were really supportive; there were some tough times that I had to deal with, but they were brilliant. Most of us were mature students with children and I’m really proud of everybody. Our last day in university was very emotional."
She has now been accepted to do a Master’s in Evidence Based Healthcare at Oxford University alongside her work.
“I am passionate about influencing best practice and person centred care and feel that undertaking this further study will increase not only my ability to do this but also to contribute to the development of new standards of practice,” she said.
She also plans to start an accompanying blog about her journey to inspire others. “It’s a steep learning curve when you qualify but I’m enjoying it,” she added. “It’s the personal relationship you have with people that is rewarding. You become part of their support network and that’s special.”