Kelly-Hellen Hitchcock - What our students say - University of Derby

Kelly-Hellen Hitchcock

Kelly-Hellen Hitchcock

Tell us about the course you’re studying and how it fits with your career aspirations?

I am currently studying for a degree in Nursing, and cannot wait to qualify as a Registered Mental Health Nurse. The course itself is tough, with constant rounds of theory blocks and clinical placements, but the learning is so valuable, and the theoretical and practical aspects each inform the other. I have had the opportunity to work in a range of different clinical environments, and lots of effort goes into making sure that a variety of Mental Health specialities are covered over the course of the three years. This has been so important in ensuring that I will leave with a real understanding of the various nursing roles, and the opportunity to start my career working in the best environment for me.

What have been your biggest successes so far?

I have been encouraged to take on extra roles and responsibilities whilst at university. I was elected as the student representative for my cohort. This led to additional opportunities and I co-founded the Nursing Society, taking on the role of secretary. I have been involved in developing both social and educational events for the society, and I took a coach of Nursing students to the RCN Congress in Liverpool. The Nursing Society won "Society Committee of the Year". Since then, I have been accepted onto a place with the Council of Deans Leadership Programme, a national programme for Health and Social Care students, enabling the development of leadership skills.

What were your main reasons for choosing this course?

I arrived at Nursing as a mature student. Having spent time raising a family, I wanted to return to work and realised that I needed to update my skills and employability. I realised that the two things which mattered most in my future work would be to be able to work with people and be able to work in a caring role. I decided that Nursing was the job for me.

Why did you choose to study the course at Derby?

Speaking to students and staff, I realised that the University of Derby offered a supportive environment which would enable me to get the most out of my degree course. And that has proved to be true, the staff are so supportive and work with their students every step of the way. They help us to identify the next steps which we need to take in our own development, and are open to our suggestions for improvements to the course.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

Do it! Nursing is a fantastic career with so many opportunities for progression, which is something I hadn't realised when I started the course. And the University of Derby is the place to do it. With so much support and opportunity for development, you really can succeed in ways that you don't yet know are possible. Even a short visit to Derby will show you how friendly and helpful staff and students are – don't underestimate how important this can be when studying. Nursing is a tough degree, the hours are longer and there is more work involved than for other degree courses, and many students struggle at some point. It is so important to have staff who are able to offer the support and advice needed at these times. And that's what makes Derby stand out for me.

Tell us about the national leadership course you recently completed.

What was this course and how did the opportunity to do it arise?

The leadership programme is run by the Council of Deans and open to first and second year students of Health and Social Care degrees. There are 60 places available. All nursing students received an email with details of the application process, and my personal tutor, Emma Broadhurst, suggested that I make an application, following the work that I have done as student rep and for the Nursing Society. I was told that there were well over 200 applications for the 60 places, and feels that it is a real achievement to have secured a place.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

The first two days of the course were amazing. We had the opportunity for group work and presentations on leadership skills, and enjoyed listening to a number of guest speakers on the subjects of resilience and emotional intelligence. But that was only the beginning. We will now be matched with a leadership mentor and have the opportunity to shadow them and share some of their experience. In November, we will come back together to reflect on our development and to reflect on the next steps in our development.

How can you link experiences of this course to your studies?

Leadership is a key skill in nursing, and one which we develop throughout our time on the BSc. Learning about resilience and "bounce-back-ability" is something which I can bring away and share with other student nurses. But the single greatest benefit of this course has been the fantastic motivation and direction which we have been given, to go away and make the most of every opportunity which comes along, developing further skills and experience, setting goals and working towards them.

How might this experience help your future career aspirations & employability?

I believe that this programme will benefit me as I look to enter the professional workplace as a Registered Nurse. The nursing profession is undergoing great transformation; major changes to nurse education and developing nursing roles within clinical environments will affect the patient experience far into the future. It has never been more important to have Registered Nurses with leadership skills to take the profession forward, ready and able to work with other health and social care professions to enhance the patient experience and improve outcomes.