A love of continuous learning and needing a new, professional challenge led one graduate toward studying nursing at the University of Northampton, where he returns this month.
Kev Taylor graduated with a diploma in nursing with the University in 2013. He is now working as a Senior Staff Nurse at Northampton General Hospital.
This month, Kev returns to the University as he is studying for the Bachelor of Science in Professional Practice which will give him a full degree, on a par with other current nursing students.
Kev’s experience gave little hint as to whether he would pursue a healthcare role, as he began his working life as a motorcycle mechanic.
After 15 years, he switched and trained to become a welder. But Kev felt the professional ’15 year itch’ again and took a complete career detour into nursing, which he says was the best decision he ever made: “I’m not your stereotypical nurse being big, a bloke and having what on paper is a very different background, so I never seriously considered nursing as a career option. I was also an older student, when many of the others were about the same age as my children.
“You see more men in the profession these days which is great, but when I first started looking into healthcare careers, the recruiting matron asked light-heartedly if I was OK taking orders from women. I told her that would never be a problem – I have four daughters, so I’m used to it!”
Now qualified as a nurse for nearly 10 years, Kev is finally professionally satisfied: “I have a compulsion to keep learning – I want to keep learning all of the time – but I had got to that point as a welder where I had learnt all I could.
“In the immortal words of Monty Python, it was time for something completely different. The great thing about nursing is it really ticks that box for me – there are millions of doors to different areas of learning. You can’t help but gain new knowledge and experience.”
His work has also been officially recognised, with two awards for exceptional patient care including, most recently, a DAISY award which honours and celebrates the care nurses and midwives provide every day.
He adds: “I work about 150 hours a month – far more than I ever did as a mechanic – so I’m usually a bit tired after that, but it’s a ‘good’ form of tired, as no one goes into nursing to hang about and chat. The awards were really nice to receive, but I don’t think I was doing anything more than just doing my job.”
Despite breaking the mould of what a ‘typical’ nurse student is, Kev feels that being an older, male student should not put other men off nursing: “You’ve got to be of the right mind-set to go into nursing of course, you have got to be the right person. It’s the hardest – but the most rewarding – job I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t do any other.
“Sometimes, patients take bets on what I did before nursing, but feedback from them has always been positive, especially from older patients. Sometimes, they are surprised to be looked after by an older male nurse, but they respond very well, especially older male patients who feel they can relate to me. But I enjoy interacting with all of my patients, whoever they are.”
Nurses and other healthcare professionals interested in continuing their learning can register to attend the University’s postgraduate courses drop-in evening on Wednesday 19 June.
The University runs a number of postgraduate qualifications suitable for members of the health and care professions, including Masters’ courses in Advanced Clinical Practice, Advancing Practice and Public Health.
Find out more about the degree in Adult Nursing at the University of Northampton.