School of Health & Social Care

Student views

Sandra Smyth

Sandra’s course has changed her life in more ways than one.

Sandra Smyth

BSc (Hons) Nursing in the Home / District Nursing

'The course fed my natural curiosity in my chosen field.'

What brought you to study at Teesside University?

I came here as a mature student. The nursing profession did not have diploma or degree qualifications when I qualified as a nurse in 1986. I was seconded by my employer to complete this one-year top-up course, and they specified studying at Teesside.

What was the course like?

I loved the knowledge acquisition. The course fed my natural curiosity in my chosen field and I was given the opportunity to compare my practices, personally and as an employee of one NHS trust, with the skills and experiences of other individuals and NHS trusts. My favourite module was clinical skills, as I love compiling the jigsaw puzzle of long-term conditions – looking at the impact of health conditions on the physical body linked to the social and psychological domains.

I have never been so politically aware of the current drivers in society and feel confident in discussing these with peers and at meetings. The course gave me so many insights and links to groups, societies and working parties which continue to feed into my day-to-day reading.

What are you doing now?

The course was geared to me returning to my employer with the qualification to take on the District Nurse Band 6 role. I work in Teesdale as a district nursing sister, aligned to four GP practices and part of an integrated team with social workers, health visitors and associated health professions – occupational therapy, physio, podiatry and practice nurses. The job is varied - I have staff to manage and I visit patients in their own homes on a daily basis.

The academic knowledge I gained from the course gave me the confidence to take on the role in the presence of other professionals. I am not sure if my new degree status has made me a better nurse, but the confidence and leadership and management skills I have gained allow me to problem solve, delegate and prioritise.

While studying I was using three or four hours daily to complete academic work. On graduating, I realised this time was still available to me, so rather than go back to sitting on the sofa watching TV, I started running. Since then I have completed three 5km races, two 10km races, and lost weight.