One compassionate Stirling graduate is already caring for people and putting her adult nursing degree into practice in her role as a staff nurse at Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban.
Annemarie MacNeil of the Isle of Barra first considered a career in nursing in her sixth-year of high school when she learned about the University of Stirling’s pre-nursing scholarship programme for secondary school pupils.
Looking for a career where she could care for people, be sociable and work in a team, Annemarie jumped at the chance to give nursing a try while at school.
The 21-year-old said: “The pre-nursing scholarship was a fantastic way to get an insight into working in a fast-paced hospital environment. I did a one-week residential placement in my local hospital and knew this was where I wanted to be. I also received an Intermediate 2 qualification in ‘Working in the health sector’ and before I knew it, I was enrolled in Stirling’s Western Isles campus in Stornoway.”
Annemarie was one of the first students to participate in the innovative scheme to encourage school leavers from remote and rural areas to consider a career in nursing. She’s now keeping nursing in the family, having watched her mum work in various nursing roles over the years.
“I always remember watching my mum help elderly relatives change dressings and check tablets. When I spoke to my family about what I wanted to do, it became clear that it was a perfect choice for me”, Annemarie continued.
“I did a lot of growing up at University and quickly realised how much patients respect you and look to you for support at times of worry. At 18-years-old it was clear how serious a job I was going to have – being part of people’s sickness and recovery – and it was a different, but fantastic, student experience.”
The Barra-born student completed placements in the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, St Brendans Hospital on the Isle of Barra, Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and the Accident and Emergency Department of Belford Hospital in Fort William during her studies.
“The Western Isles campus was a fantastic place to learn. I had access to one-on-one teaching and brilliant support from lecturers to help me support patients when they needed me during highs and lows.”
Annemarie was awarded the R G Bomont Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice and will travel to the Western Isles Campus with her family to collect the accolade and celebrate the achievement next month.
During her time at Stirling, the student nurse also had the opportunity to meet with the Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland and accompanied Dr Annetta Smith, Associate Head of School in the Highland and Western Isles, to the Health Education England in London to promote school leaver scholarship programmes among healthcare leaders.
“It’s great to now be working in a medical ward full-time and I’m working hard to get to know the hospital, the staff and my role in the team. My colleagues in the hospital are so supportive which is great. I’m looking forward to graduating in Inverness Cathedral and to be reunited with my classmates.”
Annemarie was one of 18 student nurses in her year studying at the Western Isles campus.
The University’s pre-nursing school leavers initiative is a partnership developed between the Highlands and Western Isles campus, local education authorities and NHS Highland and Western Isles.