International Nurses Day

Case Studies

May 12th is International Nurses Day where we celebrate the vital role nurses play in our healthcare system and our lives. Nursing is both a rewarding and challenging career and roles vary from emergency care to community care and all the specialisms in between.

Studying a nursing programme at university more accessible than ever before with learners applying straight from college or sixth form or mature learners applying after a gap in education. Nursing courses are currently funded by the nhs, and these bursaries make retraining a possibility too, even if you already hold a degree or higher qualification.

To celebrate International Nurses Day, we sat down with registered nurse Claire McQuade, who talked to us about her experience studying at university and why she loves what she does.

Why did you choose to become a nurse? Did something or someone inspire you?

My brother was pretty unwell when we were growing up and spent a lot of time in hospital. I saw how caring the nurses were and how much of a difference they made which inspired me to want to make a difference and help others.

Where did you study?

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). It has one of the biggest Nursing programs in Scotland. My first year had around 300 people.

How was your university experience? Did you get involved in any activities outside of your course?

I loved my time at university although it was very stressful at points. The nursing course when I was at GCU in 2008 ran all year Sept-Sept with only a four week break for summer holidays. While trying to juggle university work and nursing placements on busy hospital wards it was very difficult to have a traditional university experience. However, I really enjoyed going to the gym, still managed lots of nights out with friends and flatmates, and meals/cinema trips out. When I first started university I made sure to enjoy freshers week despite my classes having already started the week before.

How did you find working on placements during your studies?

The nursing placements were the best part of the course, you always learned so much from other experienced nurses and you were made to feel like a part of the team. The placements usually ran from anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 weeks with the final placements lasting 12 weeks. During placements you were always encouraged to see so many different specialist areas of nursing learn so much and built your knowledge and confidence levels. During the placements you also got to practice all the clinical skills you learned in university and it allowed you to better understand all the medical conditions you had been studying while in university.

What is the toughest part about being a nurse?

There are lots of small areas that can be tough, maintaining a good work/life balance when doing 12 hours shifts is hard at points, I gain a lot of support from my friends and family which can help a lot!
There can also be some very busy, difficult and stressful times during a normal shift for lots of different reasons, with the work load hard to manage, but you are always supported by your nursing colleagues and friends working along side you. You are never alone and there is always someone you can turn to for help.

What is the best part about being a nurse?

The best part of nursing is being able to positively help someone when they are unwell. Being able to understand that a person is very unwell, giving them medication and seeing them improve is a great feeling. Also, being able to make someone feel better and listened too is also so important, sometimes sitting down and chatting to someone or making them a cup of tea is equally just as important and will make a huge difference

What advice would you give to someone who is considering studying to become a nurse?

Studying nursing can be so rewarding, but can also be very stressful and lots of hard work. You have to make sure you enjoy your time at university and your placements. Go in with an open mind and if you find that it isn’t for you then that is ok too! There are so many different types of nursing that if you don’t enjoy one placement you might enjoy your next one, Make sure you always ask for help if you need it, everyone is there to support you and help you succeed.

If you’re a teacher or advisor, why not book our ‘What Can I Do With Healthcare’ programme for your learners? This unique opportunity allows learners to discover a wide range of clinical careers that form our amazing health services, supporting learners considering a future in healthcare to find the best career for them. This is ideal for learners who have expressed an interest in working as healthcare professionals, as well as those who are interested in careers in science.

To find out more about the programme and to book, email