Opinion pieces

Postgraduate bursary removal

I wasn’t ready to do my nursing training at 17. I commend those who are, who go straight from school, but for me it wasn’t the right time for a variety of reasons.


After a lot of ‘soul-searching’ and tear-filled conversations (questioning my gut instinct at the age of 24), I decided to leave my career behind, start fresh as a Healthcare Assistant at my local NHS Trust and apply to do my nursing training.
And no one has ever said I did the wrong thing.


I’ve since become a (very!) proud member of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care at King’s College London, studying on the Post-Graduate Diploma (Adult) Nursing. Not many people outside of the profession are aware of the PGDip route of training, and to be honest I actually originally applied for the BSc course. It was a huge relief to know that I would be able to train in two years as opposed to three, predominantly for financial reasons.

This route of training meant that I would only have to come up with a way to support myself for two years, as opposed to three. I have an exceptionally supportive family and a strong group of friends, and together we constructed a financial plan for the two years. I cannot explain the relief and excitement of knowing I would be able to begin my dream career in two years!
Studying at Master’s level however, as the post-graduate entry route requires…. Frankly, I was terrified. But here I am today. I’m succeeding, with five months to go until I become a newly qualified staff nurse, and relishing in the opportunity I have been given.

Taking away the NHS bursary from nursing students as a whole is going to be hugely detrimental to the future of the nursing profession. Speaking specifically about postgraduate nurses now; taking away the bursary from postgraduate students is a travesty. In my opinion.

This particular group of nurses will bring a wealth of previous experience, from all different scenarios and industries, to such a wonderful profession. The group of people I have met during my training, who study alongside me, are inspirational. And I’ve spoken to some of them regarding this subject, and very few of us would have been able to even contemplate studying as postgraduates without the bursary.

The current government quietly removed the NHS bursary from postgraduates last week, so now no nurse who wishes to train will get a bursary, and they evidently tried to avoid as much publicity on the subject as possible. Over the last few months, I have repeatedly felt dismayed and betrayed by those that make these decisions. But the truth is, I’m a nurse at heart and I’ll keep going on with my training, striving to be the best nurse I can be when I qualify, no matter what obstacles are thrown at us.

I wasn’t ready to study nursing at 17 and it doesn’t make me any less of a person for feeling that way. Mature students should be given the opportunity to change their career path and jump in the deep end of a new vocation, because we are needed in the profession. Our years of experience prior to our training bring a different insight, a different perspective. I was lucky enough to receive the bursary whilst I’ve been training but it’s not fair and it’s certainly not right to deny other exemplary nurses the chance to train.

You cannot fuel and ‘save’ the NHS by taking vital money away from the funding of one of the professions that holds it together.

(Katy Sutherland – student nurse) 

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