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Nursing careers: how Chloe is supporting the health and wellbeing of her island community

Find out how Chloe navigated a nursing degree while working as a healthcare support worker and how she supports her island community as a general practice nurse.

Ahead of International Nurses’ Day, Chloe shares her journey of getting her nursing degree, working as a healthcare support worker, and balancing her home life.

Chloe’s nursing career story 

Who is Chloe? 

Chloe is a general practice nurse who works for NHS Shetland. She started her nursing training in 2016 after working as a health improvement practitioner. 

Deciding on a career pathway 

When Chloe left school in Orkney, she initially wanted to train as a physiotherapist but studied Sports Science at the University of Aberdeen instead. After graduation, Chloe worked in a leisure centre. She then applied for a maternity cover position as a health improvement practitioner at NHS Shetland.  

After the initial contract period, her role became permanent. However, as it was part-time, Chloe applied to the NHS Shetland staff bank to pick up healthcare support worker shifts. 

The importance of a work-life balance  

Chloe had heard about the opportunity to study nursing at the Open University while still working as a healthcare support worker. She made the decision to fully commit to becoming a nurse and dropped her health improvement practitioner role. Chloe says that “self-discipline is important” when it comes to balancing working, studying, and looking after a family.  

As well as having a supportive family, Chloe had a local tutor who was very understanding and acted as her mentor: “I had a really good mentor during my training who was a practice nurse in the community. I really saw the impact they were making with their work”. She also created a strong bond with the local student cohort who were studying with The Open University to become nurses. They provided Chloe with a vital support system.  

First steps as a newly qualified nurse 

When Chloe graduated in 2020, she applied for a practice nursing position but was turned down due to lack of experience. Her first job as a newly qualified nurse was in the community.  

She then applied for a development position in general practice. Chloe explains that in this role, she completed a 2-year graduate diploma while working full-time. This helped her to progress to a more senior nursing role upon completion.  

Through this development role, Chloe gained skills in working effectively across teams, long-term condition management, clinical assessment skills, and prescribing. Again, she had to find resilience and remain disciplined to keep up with her studies while working full-time and finding time for her home commitments.    

Nursing in an island community 

Working as a general practice nurse, Chloe supports individuals with long-term conditions to manage them. She builds relationships with people over their whole lives. Chloe finds it easier to get to know people in the small communities. She believes that people like to see familiar faces.  

Listening and being a good communicator are some of the most important skills for Chloe to do her job effectively. She must understand how an individual lives with their health condition to assess and guide them. Chloe also needs to be organised but flexible to balance workloads and priorities effectively. She could be called to another part of the island at short notice.  

Chloe’s advice for anyone who wants to become a nurse 

Chloe advises anyone who wants to be a nurse to look for opportunities and ask to speak to people in roles that they are interested in. She advises aspiring nurses to keep applying and showing interest. Learning from her own experience, she says, “Never give up and don’t let knockbacks put you off”.

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