Zainab Bundu

Children and Young People's Nursing BSc (Hons)

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As a mature student, I’ve previously attended two universities and had a good idea of what sort of university I was looking for this time. Firstly, the University of Northampton is the closest university to my home, which is important in supporting my existing responsibilities. Also, the University has modern facilities for my course, and when I researched the nursing lecturers to learn about their qualifications and experience, their backgrounds also played a significant part in my decision to study at the University of Northampton.

My aspiration is to become a Children’s Cardiac Nurse Specialist and a Prescribing Nurse, and I would also love to volunteer my skills internationally, in Africa specifically. I’ve always been passionate about health and have worked with children for numerous years in project management, children’s rights and safeguarding, having gained a degree in Psychology and a master’s in Children, Youth and International Development. I strongly believe I can achieve absolutely anything I’m committed to and that’s how I approach my learning.

The 6Cs of Nursing can be applied anywhere in my life – care, commitment, compassion, competence, communication, and courage – but the skill I’ve gained during my degree that I feel will be most useful in my future career is the ability to adapt and to accept that growth is sometimes accompanied by initial discomfort. I’ve also learnt the true meaning of empathy, a deeper understanding of compassion towards myself and others, the ability to be analytical and self-aware, and to diligently plan and seek evidence prior to action.

My final placement in the first year of my degree was in different schools across Northamptonshire, with a focus on understanding the Well Child. My role was to support sports and wellbeing coaches as they engaged primary school children in sports and wellbeing activities. I communicated with children, learnt about their communication styles and developmental stages, and how they manage their emotions and conflict. In terms of their health, I supported children with brittle bone disease, ADHD, autism, and other health conditions to actively participate in physical activity in line with government guidelines.

This placement was both physically exhausting and mentally stimulating, as I was guided by children and able to observe them as they developed their skills and managed their relationships with their peers. I also organised and participated in a Spoke Day experience with nurses from the Children with Complex Needs team, which was a remarkable day of learning where I observed how they support children with complex health needs and learnt how person-centred care is offered to child patients and their families.

This placement was a real benefit as it provided me with the opportunity to communicate with children, to learn about how their health needs and lifestyle choices affect their daily lives, how they manage conflict, persevere through challenges and their relationships with others.

As a future nurse, I’ll need to understand child development and behaviour to meet the needs of children in my care and the placements have enabled me to develop employability skills in presentation and communication, leadership, problem solving and teamwork. They also allow me to add varied practical experience to my CV, which is hugely important in gaining employment in a successful nursing career.

My tip for applying for or getting the most benefit from a placement is to communicate with your placement area and visit it early on, be inquisitive and seek Spoke Days to broaden your experiences. Also, be brave, ask questions, learn about the placement area, and communicate regularly with the team before you start. Be positive and show that you’re happy to be there.

My journey to become a children’s nurse is therapeutic, challenging and extremely rewarding. It’s required a lot of growth and reflection on my current skills, self-awareness, strengths, and development areas, but the experience I’m gaining from placements and within the classroom prepares me for the real world of nursing and a multi-faceted career in health. I know I can pursue various areas of nursing, whether that’s health visiting, prescribing, or hospital working, and each will come with its own challenges and growth.

Alongside my studies, I volunteer as a Student Advocate for the Children and Young People’s Nursing course, where I listen to and represent the views of my peers in meetings with senior lecturers and staff members to bring about positive changes and recognise what’s going well. Being an advocate enables me to problem solve, be compassionate, listen and lead as appropriate – all these skills will enhance my career prospects once I graduate.

The advice I’d give to undergraduates interested in this career path is to seek opportunities to gain experience with children or people in your community and be prepared to demonstrate how you care for others around you.

My UON experience so far can be summarised with these words: challenging, inspiring, adaptability, uplifting, growth and fun!