Pre-Nursing · Study & Academia · The StN Project

My Applicant Journey (From Access Course To University)

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a passion for biology, medicine and people. My nine-year-old self aspired to be a neurosurgeon that moonlighted as a West End performer! However, as I grew up and discovered more about the nursing profession, the more my love for it grew. Nursing has a very proud history. It is a dynamic and varied profession that is constantly developing, adapting and challenging its people.   

I have lived in Plymouth for five years. It is a beautiful city full of opportunities to be inspired, to achieve and to grow. When I first visited the city, it was the sea that grabbed my attention. Being so close to the water was a definite pulling point. Then I found the University. As a mature student, I wasn’t sure if perhaps my time to study had been and gone. I put off applying for four years and I wish that I hadn’t.  

The University of Plymouth is rated as one of the top two modern Universities in the UK. Their faculty of Health and Human Sciences is one of the UK’s largest providers of the health & social care workforce and their school of Nursing and Midwifery works in partnership with local NHS trusts to drive forward clinical research, with current projects based around sustainability, clinical education and genetic theory and technology. As someone who is always asking “why?” and wanting to know more, the focus on research was a huge selling point for me when choosing my university.  

I have attended two Open Days at the University of Plymouth (and each time I have taken advantage of the free catering that is provided!). These are invaluable and I would fully recommend attending at least one. They are an amazing way to meet current students and staff and ask all those questions that have been building up whilst you have been researching your University! My friend Abi and I must have spent hours in the Nancy Astor building, speaking with lecturers about all sorts of nursing and non-nursing related things. We got to have a go with some basic equipment for hand washing (including a UV Lamp that showed me quite how terribly bacteria can harbour around my nails!) and urine testing and were shown how the simulation mannequins work in the Clinical Skills Resource Centre. Everyone was super friendly and enthusiastic, but we eventually pulled ourselves away and left on a total high! Next, there was a subject talk that lasted around 30-45 minutes. This was very informative. It described the types of placements we could expect, their expectations of us, the kinds of modules we would study as a Student Nurse and all kinds of other information that was incredibly useful. Open Days are held throughout the year so there is hopefully one that will be suitable for you to attend – plus who doesn’t like a free pen?  

Between the Open Day I attended in April and the start of my Access to Nursing course in September, I worked hard on my personal statement. I was aware that this was probably going to be one of the most difficult aspects of my application to University. Admissions tutors want to know why you should be offered a place on their degree programme. It’s your chance to describe your ambitions, skills, and experience and to really sell yourself! Personal statements can take a long time to write because of this. I would recommend starting with a mind map and expanding from there. Write it, read it, edit it, write it again. Keep going. Your final draft will be nothing like your first try but that is okay – isn’t this whole process about progression and development? 

I was invited to an interview at the end of October 2018. To say I was nervous would be a total understatement. My aforementioned friend and I went together and I’m not sure if we comforted eachother or made the nerves worse! Either way, there was absolutely no reason for the nerves. As demonstrated to us previously by academic members of the University, everyone was totally lovely and very welcoming! The interview process was very smooth. After the normal formalities, the group (around 10 of us) was split into two. Half of us stayed and completed our English assessment – a short exercise where we were to write a short piece of writing based on a video that had been shown to us earlier that day. The other half went for their personal interviews. These are performed as Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI’s). Although MMI’s may sound intimidating, I found them to be a very effective interview technique. I enjoyed not being in front of one person for a long time, and my brain seemed to refresh with each new interviewer! There are 6 questions in total and are based around what you might expect – teamwork, personal qualities, ability to reflect on past experiences and your course choices. Once everyone had completed their maths paper (10 question, GCSE level maths – nothing to panic over, I promise!) we had a short subject talk and a more informal talk with the admissions tutor. Candidates were advised that we would be informed of a decision within two weeks. The day my offer came through was one of the most exciting days of my life – I am going to be a Nurse! 

Recently, the School of Nursing and Midwifery began to offer a new course option for pre-registration nursing – the Masters of Nursing (Hons) which is a dual field qualification, at undergraduate master’s level and takes four years to complete. I decided to swap my course and after another interview with the tutors from Child Health, I am pleased to say that I have been offered a place to study this brandnew course. From September 2019, I will be part of the first cohort at Plymouth to study both Adult and Child Health Nursing and I am ridiculously excited.  

The application process with the University of Plymouth has been smooth, informative, inspiring and enjoyable. My top tips for anyone wanting to apply this year would be: 

  • Go to an Open day – they are invaluable! 
  • Research your University and course options. 
  • Start your personal statement early – the more time you have to prepare, the better!  
  • Ask questions, lots of them! 
  • Enjoy your interview, relax and believe in yourself! 
  • Follow the University and the faculty on Twitter and get involved! 

 Good Luck! 

Written by Emma Jenkins – (@accesstoNHS) (Twitter) 

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