We caught up with final year MSc Nursing Studies Adult (Pre-registration) student Jen Blake, as part of International Nurses Day, which is celebrated annually on 12 May.
This year’s theme is, ‘Nurses: A voice to lead – a vision for future healthcare’ and we wanted to hear all about Jen’s pathway to GCU and her hope for the years to come.
Tell me a bit about your background – how did you find yourself on this programme?
“Both my parents work in healthcare. My mum’s from a nursing background and my dad’s a paramedic, so I grew up in that sort of environment. It wasn’t something I’d always wanted to do – it came to me a bit later on.
My background is in wildlife biology and my undergraduate was in animal biology through in Edinburgh – I’ve always been passionate about wildlife and the planet.
I worked for a couple of years with the RSPB and I did a project where I was trying to get people healthier by being outdoors and interacting with nature. Through that, I was doing a lot of health promotion and I’d always loved science at University.
I started volunteering at the hospital my mum works at and shadowed my aunty – who’s a practice nurse. I just thought it was brilliant and really wanted to do something that was helping people. That led me towards nursing and when I saw GCU were offering the postgraduate programme to do a Pre-reg but also furthering your academic studies, it just sounded perfect.”
You mentioned you were passionate about wildlife and the planet – where did that passion come from?
“I grew up in Cumbria and had the Lake District on my doorstep. I was always out in the outdoors and was really aware of the environment around me – which meant I had that love of wildlife. I grew up watching David Attenborough and have always felt a real need to protect that.
We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful planet that provides us with the resources to live and it’s therefore our duty to protect and conserve that.
Having it as my playground has made me want to protect it. I want to address avoidable human impact around the world – there are so many things we can do to better the environment around us.”
Why is climate change so important and what can be done within nursing to help address it?
“The Lancet series of papers announced that climate change was the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, so the effects on health are going to affect most populations in the next decade. This would put the life and wellbeing of billions of people at risk.
Climate change has a massive impact on air and water quality and also the amount of infectious diseases. As temperatures increase, the prevalence of diseases increases as well, so we’ll start seeing more transmittable diseases which previously wouldn’t have existed in our climate.
Nurses are frontline workers and account for about 50% of the world’s healthcare workforce. We therefore have a responsibility to try and mitigate the impact of climate change on health.
There’s a definite need to move towards sustainable healthcare, where we’re managing the resources that we need but not compromising future generations, the environment or natural resources. Since we as nurses use so many of these products, we’re in a brilliant position to really make a positive change.”
How are you looking at making a change?
“My dissertation focused on how nurses can improve their contribution to sustainability.
I’ve also been working with David Barber and Val Ness to think about how we can get sustainability into the nursing curriculum, so that we can help raise awareness to link climate change, health and the importance of sustainability in practice.
This will mean nurses that are going through their training are able to implement this knowledge or even just think about it when they’re out on placement. Hopefully that way of thinking will inspire them to make changes that will benefit the world around us in future.”
What’s your vision for the future of healthcare?
“I think the future is really exciting and it’s a great time to be starting as a newly qualified nurse. Through the pandemic there’s been more and more recognition of the role of the nurse, the responsibilities that we have and the diversity that comes with it. We’re definitely now moving away from the stereotypical image of what a nurse is.
In terms of climate change, there are more and more people getting on-board with it and it’s definitely becoming more recognised. The connotations that come with the phrase “climate change” will hopefully start to include health and wellbeing and the impact that it actually has on us personally.
I’m hoping that momentum continues to drive from the Greta Thunberg protests and the amazing work she’s advocating. Fingers crossed that everything will start to snowball and society will look at the ways we could potentially make a green recovery from Covid-19.”
Article extract from Student News
GCU – BSc Nursing Studies (Adult):
- Year 1
Scottish Higher: Standard entry requirement: BBC (incl English) Nat 5: C (Maths/Lifeskills Maths)
A level: BC GCSE: C/4 (English and Maths)
GCU – MSc Nursing Studies Adult (Pre-Registration):
- Typical entry requirements
UK honours degree 2:2 (or equivalent) in a non-adult nursing discipline. English and Maths at Standard grade, GCSE, National 5 (or equivalent). Two satisfactory references (one of which should be academic). Evidence of recent assessed study or relevant CPD activities within the last five years. Evidence of digital literacy. If successful, you will be shortlisted and invited for interview.
We have a very limited number of places available on this course for students from outside of the European Union. These places fill up very quickly and were unable to process applications more than 12 months in advance.
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