Blog post

Changing your mind about your course in Clearing

Dija Bah, a first-year BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing student, shares her story about applying to study a new course during Clearing.

15 August 2022

Why did I choose to apply through Clearing?

I entered Clearing to change direction in my career – from accounting to mental health nursing.

When I first decided to divert to nursing, it was not hard for me because I have wanted to care for people throughout my life. I was in accounting, struggling to get a good stable job, and I decided to go back to my first love and apply for an agency support worker role for the NHS, to test the waters. I had some previous international volunteering experience from looking after orphaned children during my first degree in Taiwan. I’d worked at a private hospital, where every day I learned something new.

Before I knew it, I was searching for how to get into mental health nursing and exploring the career prospects. I also searched for universities near me that offered mental health courses as I had a hectic life raising two children under three, working, and studying for my accountancy qualifications part-time in Birmingham. So, I was mainly focused on how good the university was and the distance from home, as I knew I would need to complete practice hours in the surrounding area.

Discovering Derby

One day, a former classmate from my last degree contacted me from Africa to tell me about his great job with PWC, one of the biggest accountancy firms in the world. I congratulated him and told him that I was considering applying for mental health nursing as I’d fallen in love with it after a few months of working at a mental health hospital. I said that having thought about how helping people improve their lives gave me so much satisfaction and had made me realise that caring for people in their most need was the career I was born to do.

He was a bit concerned about me giving up my accountancy qualifications, which I’d invested such a lot in, but I told him I was optimistic about going into mental health nursing. He then told me that his aunt had taken a similar route and was now a third-year Mental Health Nursing student at the University of Derby. That was music to my ears, and the conversation got more interesting.

Before this, I’d heard about Derby through the internet, but it hadn’t crossed my mind when searching for where to study the course. I asked if I could have his aunt’s number to seek some advice, and he gave it to me. I contacted ‘Aunty D’, as I now call her. She was so accommodating and honest about her experience. We spoke for a long time, and she told me so many things. She was the first person to say that I could use Clearing to still get into Derby even though I did not apply there, as that was the same route she went through. I read about the Clearing process on the Derby website. The instructions were straightforward and helpful.

The Clearing process

The first thing I needed to do was to call the Clearing team. I phoned them on a Saturday morning and explained what I was looking for. They handed me over to a mental health nursing tutor who was extremely lovely, calm and supportive. She made me more excited about the course when she gave me a run-through of what it involved.

After listening to my story, she offered me a place over the phone. I couldn’t believe it, and I had to email first thing on the following Monday morning to confirm that it was true. When I received a reply to confirm this, it was one of the most joyful moments of my life. I knew someone out there was willing to give me a chance to make my dream of caring for people in their time of most need come true. I knew I had an opportunity to rewrite my story.

Student life

Life at Derby is more than just the course. I have made new friends, gained new experiences, and learned about different cultures worldwide. I have settled in quickly, thanks to Derby’s calm and inclusive environment. I commute about 35 miles from Stoke to the Derby campus, but I have never felt reluctant to travel in because I am always excited to see my friends and lovely lecturers.

The lecturers at Derby are so down to earth and very supportive. The quality of lectures and the experience of those delivering it has been exemplary. There is endless support from every corner, whether from fellow students, lecturers, personal tutors, the library team, or even alumni.

The peer support at the University of Derby is second to none. I have attended five higher education institutions in the UK, but the peer support I have received since joining the course at Derby is beyond belief. When I post a question in our WhatsApp group, even if it’s the middle of the night, I get a response straight away.

My first year has gone within the blink of an eye, and it has been more relaxed than I expected. I’ve enjoyed every bit of the experience, and I am proud of my achievements so far. This is not to say I did not do much, but rather the support around has helped me achieve a lot within a year!

The future

My future is just beginning. I will use the knowledge and experience from this course to progress professionally and make a difference in people’s lives. I am determined to graduate as an exceptional nurse who will be equipped to face the everyday challenges of nursing, and I do not doubt that Derby is shaping me well for that.

I am very passionate about research and development, so my dream is to do a PhD in one of the areas of mental health, become a nurse consultant with the NHS, and continue to progress my journey as a proud NHS staff member.

Tips for others

I would strongly recommend anyone considering applying to Derby through Clearing to go for it. It is nothing scary, and the tutors are exceptional and will support you through the process. Remember, going through Clearing does not mean filling the leftover spaces. It is about giving you an alternative route to get into university, and not only that but also to have the chance to change your course and place of initial choice.

Getting into Derby through Clearing is the best thing to ever happen to me, so make it your best thing too. I would do it all over again if I had to. Thank you, Derby, for believing in me! I am so proud to be a part of your community.

Have a question for Dija? Ask her on Unibuddy