4:00 PM January 29, 2022
Seeing television images of healthcare workers trying to save Covid patients and be on the front lines of the pandemic has inspired many to take up nursing.
Jamie Steele, a second-year nursing student at the University of Suffolk, never considered a career in healthcare until caring for a loved one dying of cancer.
Two days after the death of his grandfather, Mr Steele was accommodated by the jobcentre for care work in Hadleigh.
He was promoted to team leader and later responsible for recruiting people into care during his 11 years working in healthcare.
When he saw nurses needing help battling the pandemic, he began to feel “stuck” behind his desk.
“The pandemic had a huge effect on me,” he said. “I wanted to help.”
Mr Steele is not alone, a record 28,815 students in England of all ages chose a nursing course in 2021 as their first choice when applying to university.
The number of 18-year-olds choosing to study nursing has increased by 38% to 7,105 since 2019, resulting in a 43% increase in the number of people with a confirmed place.
Sam Chenery-Morris, head of nursing and midwifery at the University of Suffolk, said: “Part of this increase can be attributed to greater public awareness of the importance of the professional role that nurses play.”
These students have often been better prepared as the pandemic has brought home the realities of nursing, she claimed, which keeps them from dropping out.
The rest of UOS had the highest dropout rate in the country before the pandemic, which has since improved, the university said.
Mr Steele said nursing is not without its challenges and dyslexia and home learning have been difficult.
“It was really tough and a struggle,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to make it.
“The University of Suffolk was absolutely behind me and really, really great.”
“Now here I am, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.”
He now hopes to enter community nursing when he graduates in 2023.
He said nursing students considering the high-stress profession should be aware that it’s like a “roller coaster”.
There are “ups and downs,” Steel said, but you get used to it and start “expecting” the challenges.
“It’s going to be tough and it’s going to completely challenge you,” he added.