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My BCU Family

How would you feel about going to the same university as your mum and dad? We had the chance to speak to Mike Davies, one of our BSc (Hons) Public Health students, who explains what it was like to have his own BCU family, with both his wife Maria and daughter Rebecca also studying here on campus.

Maria:

  • NHS Community Staff Nurse

  • BCU 2010 – 2013 Dip in Nursing

  • BCU 2018 – 2019 Nurse Mentor Training

1. Why did you decide to go to BCU?

After competing my A levels at 18, my intention had always been to train as a nurse. I had chosen my A levels for this, but at my interview at the old school of nursing I was told that I was too fat to be a nurse and left devastated. I decided to get a job, lose weight and apply again. Unfortunately, life then got in the way and I developed a career in a new area. Times change and after working in finance for 32 years the opportunity arose to change career.

As the desire to be a nurse had never left me, I decided to secure a position working as a Nursing Assistant in an NHS hospital to see for myself how nurses work. Here I worked with many student nurses and I was full of questions about their experience as a nursing student. I was impressed to see that BCU is a specialised health training facility that trains thousands of nurses and other health professionals. BCU is local to where I live and as I had a family and disabled husband, I wanted somewhere close to home and BCU seemed the ideal place. As my daughter also expressed an interest in nurse training we both attended an Open Day at BCU. I thought that at the age of 51 my opportunity had passed me by, but the people I spoke to reassured me that my age was not a barrier to train and feeling so inspired I applied, was invited for an interview and then was so excited and terrified to be offered a place.

2. How was your time at BCU?

My time at BCU was the adventure of my life. I enjoyed every minute of it and made every opportunity count. I can honestly say it was the best three years of my life. Yes I was the oldest in my cohort, and yes there were students in their 40s who thought they were old which did make me chuckle. With the right attitude you can truly do anything. Being in my 50s was never a barrier. I worked equally with the younger students and when on placement some of my mentors were young enough to be my daughter. But I was humble and accepted that in terms of nursing knowledge - they were my superiors. I found my first placement a challenge, going from working at a high level in my previous career to now starting at the bottom again. Three newly qualified nurses who were only in their early twenties themselves, took me under their wing, took an interest in me and supported me throughout... they became like mothers to me. I'm still in contact with them and it is a joy to see how their career has progressed. These young ladies put me on the road to success, as without them the placement would have been a very negative experience and perhaps a deal breaker. I qualified at the age of 55 with a choice of five different jobs in various hospitals. It’s never been a better time to be a nurse. Thank you, ladies.

3. Were you inspired by each other’s time at BCU?

My daughter has recently qualified to be a nurse at BCU. It has been a joy to watch her grow in knowledge and confidence. I could see how tough the BSc (Hons) degree is but with support from family and tutors, it can be achieved. Now her Dad - my husband - has been inspired to join the BCU family too. It is a privilege to have such a university on our doorstep and a privilege to attend and watch us as a family benefit from its influence.

 Rebecca: 

  • NHS CCU Staff Nurse
  • BCU 2015 – 2018 BSc (Hons) Nursing

 1. Why did you decide to go to BCU? 

Since I was young, I have been surrounded by ill health; at the age of 10 my father was disabled after an accident at work. I experienced first-hand the effect that this has, not just on the individual but the whole family. As a teenager I assisted my mother with the care of my grandmother; this was a challenging but rewarding experience which has given me many fond memories. During this time, I studied health and social care at college, which helped me become more aware with a better understanding of ill health. After college, I was not ready to attend university straight away; instead, I applied for and was offered a position as a health care assistant working in the community alongside the district nurses. Here, I worked with many student nurses on their placements and developed skills pertaining to my role. After my nan passed away in 2014, and after much discussion and research, I decided to attend an Open Day at BCU. By then I felt ready to take on this new challenge and after a successful application I began my nurse training in September 2015, which I completed in September 2018 and finally graduated in January 2019.

 2. How was your time at BCU?

I was very excited to commence my training at BCU and was aware of how fortunate I was to be in this position. During my time at university I gained lots of experience, but this did not come without its challenges. I found going from working full time in placement and juggling the academic element of the course very tough but so rewarding, none of which would have been possible without the support of my lecturers, personal tutor, family and friends. They helped me make it achievable.

3. Were you inspired by each other’s time at BCU?

My mother qualified as a nurse from BCU. I was inspired by her experience at university as she seemed to enjoy every moment of her time there, gaining new friends along the way. I was also inspired by student nurses on placement who I had worked with prior to starting university. They told me of their journey and this encouraged me to start my course.

Michael:

  • BSc (Hons) Health Studies (Public Health). Second year student. 
  • BCU 2017 - 2020                      

 1.  Why did you decide to go to BCU?

I had a career in construction which took me from a carpenter to a contracts manager and finally teaching, until an injury and subsequent illness stopped all of that. I was always in pain and unable to return to work, and this affected me in other ways also. It was my dad who pointed it out to me in a conversation a few years after my injury. He said in mid conversation one day, “but you were physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually devastated and traumatised”; I had never quite thought about my injury and illness in that way before, but he was right. However, for a long time there was little I could do about my situation except to accept that it was unlikely I would ever return to work.

Fast forward 10 years later to 2013, and my journey back to work began; this, though was beset with many obstacles to overcome. By 2015 I felt I needed to learn more about my health and so I decided to study level three in health and social care alongside with Maths and English GCSEs at Matthew Bolton College. After completing and passing my GCSEs and level three health, I was unsure what to do next as I have rheumatoid arthritis, and this limits me physically. I worked as a nursing assistant for a while at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, but the pain was too much for me to cope with.

2. Were you inspired by each other’s time at BCU?

I was inspired by my wife Maria who had recently re-trained and graduated as a BCU nurse at the age of 55, after missing out on that opportunity as a young woman. I was also inspired by my daughter who was at the time a second year nursing student at BCU. Seeing how their experience helped them grow in confidence and resilience through their dedication, hard work and joy in helping others, encouraged me to push myself and not to let restrictions of disability and age be a barrier preventing me from reaching my potential. Although my options were limited, I did find a health course that suited me physically and interested me mentally: Health Studies (Public Health) BSc (Hons) Degree.

I was really encouraged by my interview with Senior Lecturer Paula Smith who has been continually supportive, reassuring and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue this course; I have no regrets as it is and was the best decision I could ever make. It has reminded me of the importance of having a growth mind set and moving forward not being defined by my injury but using it in a positive way to inspire others that they too can do what I am doing. I would encourage anyone, if they’re interested in helping and inspiring others to look after their health and wellbeing but hands on nursing and medicine is not for them, that this course is perfect for them. It involves every part of society, how we impact it and it us, such as the environment, health protection, promotion and improvement for individuals, communities, population health and wellbeing.

My daughter recently had her graduation - one of the proudest moments of my life. She is now working as a Registered Cardiology Nurse in CCU, at home I am surround by nurses (not such a bad thing) and as a husband and father, I could not be prouder of what my wife and daughter have achieved. Throughout all the stress that comes along with being a nurse they continue to inspire me. It will be my turn to graduate in 2020 along with my peers, and I cannot wait.

3. How is your time at BCU going?

At 53 I am the oldest student in my group; some of my younger peers were surprised to see someone at my age studying a degree, but the university is very inclusive, and I have seen several older mature students on campus. The help and support I have received is second to none in my opinion, not just my tutors but from everyone, including The Ask Desk, Disability team, Library team, Careers+ team and the Professional Development department. I love learning new things and feel like I am in my element, although like most people I get stressed and this has an adverse effect on my health, so I manage this especially during assessments. My tutors are great though and I get extra time if I need it, which takes some of the pressure off.

At the beginning of my second year I was invited to join the high achiever’s recognition scheme (HARS), which for someone such as myself, leaving school and hardly being able to read and write was an achievement in itself. I am coming to the end of my second year in my Public Health degree and recently completed my first placement. This was a great experience, being able to put theory into practice and see first-hand how this benefits society (not every university offers placements for Public Health so this is a real added bonus). Looking forward after my degree, I am looking at doing a Master’s degree studying Public Health epidemiology, having recognised the benefits this can have from my placement.

Feeling inspired?

Find out more about our Health Studies (Public Health) course - available to be studied full-time and part-time to suit you.

Go to the course page