Case study


As a newly qualified nurse, Kate Henry is on the front line. It wasn’t always going to be like this. There was a time when she wanted to be a musician. Or, more specifically, Avril Lavigne. But a moment of inspiration changed all that. And now Kate is using her creativity to inspire the next generation of nurses.

Half an hour that changed Kate’s world

Kate’s family is full of doctors and nurses. But Kate saw a different path for herself. “I resisted it for so long. I really did. No, no, no. I want to be Avril Lavigne. I want to be a DJ. Don’t take my dream away!”

Then her mum encouraged her to come to one of our Open Days and they spoke to Dr Paula Holt MBE, former Dean of our College of Health, Psychology and Social Care.

“She sat down with us for half an hour,” explains Kate. “She went into what she had done throughout her career and how much she had progressed and succeeded in her life. And it just inspired me. I didn’t know you could do all this in nursing.

“And I thought: ‘Let’s do it. Let’s just go for it.’ So I sat down, applied through UCAS and I just felt really good about the idea of going to university. I felt that it was a really positive move for me.

“I know I am a very giving person and I like to help people and I like to help people feel better. And I’ve always known that. I think my mum saw that in me and prompted me to do that. I do really enjoy helping people and just making somebody smile.”

Kate's story

Kate Henry with a patient

View Kate's story video transcript

Through challenges

Kate’s journey on her Adult Nursing BSc (Hons) degree has had some challenges along the way. Her academics pushed her to succeed through her times of doubt. Kate explains: “I reached out and I spoke to my personal tutor and I spoke to my marker for my dissertation, and I just said: ‘Can you help?’

“And they did. They made me realise, and I keep saying this to people, ‘just remember the reasons you are doing this’. They reminded me of that.”

Kate also became an advocate for student nurses, supporting them through their own journey as a fellow student. “Purely because I’ve been there,” she says. “I’ve been in that situation. And I know how hard it is. It’s just having that empathy. It’s making sure their mental wellbeing is a priority for them.”

Kate ended up with a First in her degree. And she also won a Dean’s Award and the First Award for Service Improvement Idea for a project at Royal Derby Hospital to ensure patients in the Medical Assessment Unit were getting enough fluids.

Kate Henry working on a laptop in a communal space
Kate Henry walking in the University of Derby Atrium

A literary journey

And, being a creative person, Kate has recorded her journey in a poem that describes how she has “grown, blossomed and matured”, from her initial fears and her doubts, through caring for patients during the pandemic, up to the point of her final exam.

She explains: “Poems are accessible to the majority, whether you hold a PhD or whether you’re in primary school learning to read and write. I wanted to connect and relate to the wider audience and tell my story in a way that was enjoyable.”

She has shared her poem on various platforms and she says: “The response has been phenomenal! Beyond what I could have ever imagined! I never realised my words could impact someone. I just want to inspire people not only into the nursing profession but also to follow their dreams in no matter what!”

Here’s an excerpt:

The team of nurses I worked with combat the wards,
Treating all patient and families just like they’re Lords.

We don’t do it for the money or fame,
We do it for the 96-year-old who can’t remember her name;

The little girl who fell off her scooter,
And you tell her the pink cast will definitely suit her!

You can read Kate’s full poem or listen to the audio version.

Kate Henry treating a patient

Why choose Derby?

As soon as Kate began considering nursing for her future, Derby was the number-one destination. “Mum recommended Derby,” says Kate, who hails from Nottingham. “She’d worked with students and nurses who had graduated from the University of Derby and they’d all raved about it. Derby was the recommended place to go.

“And the Royal Derby Hospital was a fantastic base for plenty of my placements and provided me with thorough training. Alongside this, I got to see the picturesque rolling hill scenes of Derbyshire, including Matlock and Bakewell, and I was fortunate enough to work out in the community."

Kate Henry headshot

The University made me realise the gift I have. It has helped me see my potential, supplied me with the life skills and knowledge required for my career and I can finally see where my life is going.

Kate Henry
BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing

What does the future hold?

Kate’s nursing career is just beginning at the King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton in Ashfield. It had a “nice vibe” when she was on placement there. She says: “Throughout my career, I will endeavour to make a difference to more and more people that I come into contact with and care for. If I can make my patients smile, make them comfortable, educate them and their families and hold their hand in time of need, I will have made my difference to the world.”

She has bigger dreams that go back to her inspiring first meeting with Dr Paula Holt. And that is to take her nursing skills beyond these shores. “It's something that I want to do and having the qualifications as a nurse allows me to broaden my horizons and travel the world and just use that and go different places,” she says.

And there is one thing that Kate wants everyone to know about her nursing journey: “I’m just a normal person and there are so many people out there that are more than capable of doing this.”

Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

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