Three years ago Becky Shuck was working as a beauty therapist. But when circumstances led her to witness the care of nurses first-hand, she knew this was the career for her.
Now she is one of the University of Worcester’s 200 student nurses who are joining the frontline service of the NHS.
Becky this week (Monday, May 4) started a six-month paid placement on an acute medical ward, at the Alexandra Hospital, in Redditch, but said she would have volunteered even if it had been unpaid.
“The reason I came into nursing was I wanted to make a difference,” said Becky, of Longbridge, near Rubery. “I have been itching to get out there and provide care for people; that’s the most important thing for me. I’m scared and anxious, but I’m glad I can do something to help in this pandemic.
“As a student, we’re not going to come across anything like this again. It’s a really good learning opportunity that will help with my skills as a nurse as well as helping out in our communities with ill patients.”
The 27-year-old third year Adult Nursing student has until now been working as a healthcare assistant at the Alexandra Hospital. This role means more responsibility and Becky said she feels well prepared.
“At the moment my patients aren’t allowed any visitors which is quite sad and hard,” she added. “For me it’s talking and making sure that they know that people are there for them, and even though we’re not their family members, that we care.”
She has been moved by the public response. “A lot of friends and family on social media pages have messaged me saying thank you and a few people I know personally have made me things like a wash bag and headbands so the masks don’t dig into my ears, so that’s been nice as I had not expected anything,” she said.
“To hear people clapping and hitting their pots and pans is really nice. The first time it happened I literally nearly cried, I felt so emotional. I felt like finally we’re getting the recognition we deserve. Last week I was on a night shift and there were ambulances outside the Alex and everyone was clapping while I was on the ward. I didn’t go out, but I heard it. It’s really nice that the nation is getting behind the NHS.”
Becky left school at 16 and became a beauty therapist. However, that all changed at 24, when a family member ended up in hospital long-term. She said: “I visited every day and saw some really good nursing care and things I thought could be changed as an outsider looking in. I wanted to be part of that.”
She chose Worcester after an Open Day visit, despite the distance. “The tutors were so friendly and I felt it was my home. As an older learner I felt that they would be able to support my academic needs. Without the support of the University and tutors I wouldn’t have got through these other two years.”
She hopes to eventually to nurse people with cancer or work in palliative care.