Thursday, 4 August 2011

Apply Yourself

As some of you will know, applying for university is a stressful process. Applying for a nursing degree however, is ten times worse! Having already gotten a degree under my belt, I had expected the application process second time round to prove a little easier. I was wrong. You see, getting on to my first degree didn’t involve an individual and group-based interview, maths and English test, medical assessment, or soul-destroying application form for an NHS student bursary!

In order to comprehend and prepare for the series of events listed above, I did as you’d expect and turned to the internet. Whether it be with the aim of finding answers to my endless list of queries, looking for some much-needed insight in the form of personal accounts from current student nurses, or fervently searching Amazon in the hopes of finding a book that would tell me everything I needed to know about the world of nursing in 200 pages or less, I was convinced the internet would show me the way.

Surprisingly though, there seems (to me at least) to be a lack of dedicated UK-based websites and blogs, not including forums, catering specifically for student nurses. And that, dear readers, is why Florence Nursingtales was born. Essentially, I want to create a comprehensive one-stop shop for prospective and current nursing students who are looking for useful, relevant, and easy-to-understand information.

And where better to start this journey than at the very beginning. Below is my account of the university application process, which will hopefully provide some clarity to any future student nurses out there.

UCAS - Personal Statement

The personal statement section of your UCAS form is your chance to sell yourself to prospective universities. The UCAS website itself has a superb in-depth guide
that covers all the fundamentals of writing a personal statement. In addition to this, there are literally hundreds of websites offering helpful advice, as well as those showcasing example statements - remember though kids, plagiarism ain’t cool. 
I decided that drawing on personal experience was not only the best way to help me stand out, but also the best approach to convey my desire, commitment, and suitability for the course - I got an interview out of it so I must have done something right. There is more than one way to write a personal statement however, so do your research and see what feels right for you.

University Interview

During my interview process, I participated in a group-based interview followed by a short individual interview. The group interview, from what I can tell, seemed to be an exercise used to determine the kinds of characteristics we all possessed based on how we interacted with each other. We were asked to read an article, discuss it, and then each present our thoughts on different issues that were identified.

My individual interview was surprisingly brief - I had read a number of accounts from people who had described their interviews as being lengthy and in-depth - with only four questions in total. 
It's important to be aware that each university will conduct their interviews differently, so make sure you have as many bases covered as possible. For my preparation, I compiled a long list of questions that I thought I was likely to be asked and constructed and memorised my answers for each of them. To give you an idea of the kinds of questions I had anticipated, here are just a few of them: Why do you want to be a nurse? Why do you want to study this particular branch of nursing? What do you think is the role of a nurse? What do you think makes a good nurse? Why do you want to study at this university? 

Medical Assessment

Should you be offered a place at a university, you will be asked to undergo a medical. If like me you’ve suffered with poor health at some point, don’t worry. According to the nurse who carried out my assessment, out of the thousands of prospective students that they see each year only a handful do not pass, and in those cases it’s usually due to severe mental health issues.

Before being asked to attend my medical, I was instructed by my university to send completed health questionnaires from both myself and my GP - be aware that your GP will most likely charge you for this. Once my questionnaires were received I was asked to attend a medical at the university’s occupational health department. The assessment started off with questions about my vaccination history, followed by a couple of jabs. The majority of the session, which only lasted 30 minutes, was spent discussing the medication I currently take and the clarification of a few minor details. I found out there and then that I had passed, and that was it!

NHS Student Bursary

For me, the application for my bursary has been the most stressful part of this process, but my circumstances aren’t exactly the norm so don’t worry. Once you have been made an offer, your university will automatically forward your details on to the NHS Student Bursary department - at least this is what happened in my case, double check with your university if you’re unsure. You will then receive a letter from the bursary team with your unique student reference number, and instructions of how to obtain the application form relevant to your studies from their website. For reasons I’m not privy to, you cannot complete and submit your application online. Instead, once you have located the correct form, you will need to print it out and complete it by hand. You will be asked to send in original documentation along with your form in order to support your application - depending on your situation they will want to see proof of identity, yearly earnings, and so on.

My advice would be to complete your application and send it off as soon as possible. Make sure you go back and check everything at least a couple of times before you do so, as your form may be returned to you and your application delayed if mistakes or anomalies are found. If you’re unsure about anything in relation to your application, give them a call. I’ve spoken to them on a handful of occasions and they have always been super friendly and helpful.

And there you have it, my journey so far from start to finish. If anyone has any questions or would like to share their experiences, use the comment feature below. 

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