Rowann Sinclair is in her 4th year of the undergraduate BSc Nursing degree (now offered as an integrated Master of Nursing) at Queen Margaret University. She is looking forward to a career in the Navy as a Nursing Officer.
"I have just accepted a place at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth to train as a nursing officer. I will start my career journey as a Role 3 deployable nurse and go to sea on the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier. This will be a long process, as I need to specialise via a preceptorship course that will prepare me for intense deployment."
"I joined the University Royal Navy Unit in Edinburgh... Being part of this unit has ensured my eligibility to play rugby for the navy, which has been an amazing opportunity for me."
Tell us a bit about yourself...
I grew up in a small town called Corsham in Wiltshire until I was about nine years old. Due to my father's job in the Royal Air Force we moved to Melrose in the Scottish Borders and lived there for a few years. To ensure I had a stable education I moved to boarding in Lincolnshire and finished up my education in Lincoln.
My military upbringing gave me a good insight into the services, and during my nursing degree course, I started to focus on the possibility of developing a nursing career with the Royal Navy.
What attracted you to the nursing profession?
Ever since I was young, I have known I wanted to pursue a job that helped people in some way - whether that be studying medicine or dentistry, I wasn’t sure. In 2017, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently had radiotherapy and an operation to eradicate the tumours. Seeing how she was cared for during her hospital stay, the support provided to her and how she came out the other side, a stronger person, really inspired me. Having witnessed the benefits of positive nursing care and the influence this can have on recovery and mental health, I have been motivated to pursue a career in nursing.
Why did you choose to study nursing at QMU?
When I was applying for university, I didn’t really think much about QMU - to be honest it was just a number on a page. One of the draws to Scotland was family - my grandparents live in Edinburgh and studying in Scotland was an opportunity to reconnect with them. That, mixed with qualifying as a Scottish student, sealed the deal for me. QMU seemed the best option for me over other others I received.
What have been your favourite parts of the course?
Nursing has been an amazing experience, from working during the pandemic to attending international lectures as a member of SIGMA. There have been many moments that I look back on and think how lucky I have been. I have always enjoyed the applied science lectures and opportunities to expand my knowledge base. QMU students are always offered a multitude of different ways to better themselves - there are always things to explore that will help develop you academically and personally.
What has been most challenging?
I think the pandemic and doing a practical course during this period was very difficult to adjust to. It was an amazing experience, but a steep learning curve. At the start, I found it extremely difficult but by the end I felt as though I was thriving!
Can you tell us about your nursing placements?
One of my most memorable experiences was in my final third year placement, it was in Accident and Emergency, and I had the best time. It was an eye-opening experience; I was able to practise a wide range of skills and witness some amazing patient care. I enjoyed this placement and would like to work in an A&E department in the future.
How have you found the support from the nursing team at QMU?
The lecturers are always very supportive and are always available by email or in person, if you need support. My Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) George Tsigkas has always been supportive and facilitated everything I could ask for. Over the last six months I have been working away on my dissertation. This work has probably been the most challenging of my life but both the Head of the Division or Nursing and my programme leader have been an amazing help and have taken the time to guide me through the whole process.
Have you made use of any other services at QMU?
I am dyslexic and the learning support at QMU has been stupendous - from needs testing in first year, to support with exams throughout the full four years. The Effective Learning Service (ELS) has been great, and I don’t think I would have got through these last couple of years without the support of the ELS team.
Life at QMU
What's been your favourite moment at QMU?
Being voted the captain of Queen Margaret Women’s Rugby was one of the greatest moments. It was a privilege to be voted into this position and lead a team.
Tell us about your passion for rugby and what you have been doing in the sport whilst studying at QMU.
Rugby has always been a passion of mine. I started playing when I was around seven years old. My father was a RFU referee, so he was always involved in the sport and took my brother and I to a weekend event involving the Corsham Mini’s. Since then, I was hooked!
Moving to Melrose, the heart of rugby 7s, was an amazing opportunity! I was able to meet so many important people and players during my time as a ‘little hornet’. Having had a few years away from the sport, while at secondary school, enabled me to pursue other passions, such as rowing and netball. When I joined university, I picked rugby back up and everything has stemmed from there. During my first two years, I played for QMU women's team and ended up captaining them in second year.
In 2018, I joined Lismore Women’s RFC and was able to develop my rugby skills - playing a season with that team was a great experience and very informative for my game. In 2019, I joined Watsonians Women Rugby, which is a team in the Scottish premiership, the highest league for women's rugby. With COVID getting in the way, I didn’t get my first start in the premiership until August 2021 against Heriot women's team. Since then, I have regularly played in the Scottish premiership and contributed to my team winning the premiership in January this year (2022).
Over the last four years, it has been hard to fit rugby and nursing together, but my mentors have been supportive and helped me make it work. Even when I tore my LCL in first year, and had to miss my placement, my nursing lecturer was able to organise a summer placement, so I didn’t have to re-sit first year.
What about joining the Royal Navy Unit?
I joined the University Royal Navy Unit in Edinburgh as I wanted to pursue a career in the navy as a nursing officer. Being part of this unit has ensured my eligibility to play rugby for the navy, which has been an amazing opportunity for me. In January 2022, I played my first game for the navy and came out with a win. In March 2022 I travelled to France for a week's camp.
Why have you decided to progress your nursing career with the Royal Navy?
Both my parents were in the RAF, so the military has always been a part of my life. Their commitment and determination to succeed inspired me to pursue a career in the military. Growing up in Lincolnshire gave me many opportunities to seek out unique experiences within the military, as well as challenge myself to try new things.
Last year, a friend joined the navy as an officer. He enthused about the training and camaraderie, and was obviously loving life in the navy. I was inspired and wanted to find out all I could about being a navy nurse. Nursing is a diverse career, with many pathways and opportunities that span many different medical specialties. Nursing in the military requires determination and strength, alongside having confidence in your own ability. I’m keen to continue developing these skills and am excited to start this journey.
I have just accepted a place at BRNC Dartmouth to train as a nursing officer. I will start my career journey as a Role 3 deployable nurse and go to sea on the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier. This will be a long process, as I need to specialise via a preceptorship course that will prepare me for intense deployment.
What has been your best moment at QMU so far?
There have been so many amazing experiences and opportunities over the last four years that picking one stand out moment is too hard. Studying at QMU has been an experience - I wouldn't change it for the world and have enjoyed it beyond measure.
What key skills and attributes have you’ve developed during your time at QMU which will help you in the future both personally and professionally?
All the skills needed to be a confident, competent and approachable nurse and friend. QMU has facilitated my personal growth and I believe I'm a better person as a product of this course.
What advice would you give anyone else who is considering studying nursing at QMU?
Go for it! Make friends with the nursing academics - they will have your back!! Take advantage of the close-knit community and volunteer for every opportunity that comes your way. QMU is a great place to study - embrace everything and you will have a blast. Nursing at QMU is an inclusive, pioneering, person-centred course that allows you to flourish and shapes you into a nurse at the forefront of education!
"At QMU I've developed all the skills needed to be a confident, competent and approachable nurse and friend. QMU has facilitated my personal growth and I believe I'm a better person as a product of this course."
[Story published in 2022]