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‘It was good to be back at City College’

31st December 2021 – Tags: Education, FE Awards, Teaching

Twenty-four years after a BTEC National in Health Studies set her on the path to a career in nursing, Mel took the bold step of returning to City College Norwich as an adult learner. Returning to studying after such a long time is a big step for anyone, but Mel’s achievement of a Level 3 Education and Training Award stands out because she did so in the face of extremely difficult circumstances. 

Mel, who is an Emergency Nurse Practitioner at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust, decided to do the course as it would help her in delivering training to her nursing colleagues. As an experienced Emergency Department (ED) nurse, Mel is involved with assisting the ED education team with the induction training of student nurses who are new to the ED department.  

Mel has had an enduring interest in education and was keen to gain a qualification that would help her in training others in her professional environment: "I love nursing and ED is in my blood. I have a passion for teaching too. I realised I could pursue my passion for teaching others, and gain a qualification, within the nursing profession. The opportunity to combine them both was perfect for me.”    

The City College Norwich course also appealed to Mel because she hopes to become involved in training CPR to pupils and teachers in schools. Although highly motivated to do the Education and Training Award, Mel says that returning to college was not easy. 

It was actually a bit daunting. I hadn’t been into City College since 1995, and all the learning I’ve done since then has been nursing based. This was a whole new ballgame of academic work, which I hadn’t done for a long time, with new people from different professional backgrounds.” 

However, Mel says she felt at ease within the first 5 to 10 minutes. She describes her experience of the weekly evening class as “chilled, laid-back" and “really supportive”. 

The support of her teacher and fellow learners on the course came into its own when Mel was hit by two distressing events - her husband suffered a heart attack, and a close friend died suddenly. Despite these events, on top of the ongoing pressures of being a frontline health worker during the pandemic, Mel resolved to complete the course - which she duly did, on time, and to a very high standard. 

Mel says, “My tutor, Jane, was fantastic throughout. She was brilliant and really, really supportive, as were the rest of the group. They gave me so much encouragement, support, and care.” 

It was hard getting back into academic writing,” Mel continues, “but all the support was there. I found the bitesize nature of the course, and the length of the sessions, meant that it was all achievable. It was manageable to fit in around work and life schedules. These courses are great for people who want to pursue further education dreams without sacrificing time off from work to gain that certificate or qualification. It was good to be back at City College.” 

On learning that she had won a Further Education Student Award, Mel’s first reaction was disbelief: “I thought it was a hoax to start with. These things don’t happen to me. It was emotional.”