Zoe Adons is a fourth year student from West Port, Co. Mayo in Ireland currently completing her Master of Nursing (MNurse).

About you

Why did you choose to study at Queen Margaret University (QMU)?

I chose to study at QMU because I like the size of the university and I loved the look of the course. I wanted to do a 4-year course and I knew that QMU could offer me that. I also knew that because of the class sizes at QMU I would have excellent support and I would have the opportunity to develop a great community of people around me.

What interested you about your chosen course?

Nursing is a career that I have been interested in for most of my adult life and I really like the way that the course at QMU was structured. The modules on offer aligned with what I was interested in, so I was excited to dive in. I knew that doing a degree like Nursing would offer me so many career options regardless of whether I wanted to continue nursing afterwards or not. I knew it was a degree that would stand me for the rest of my life. Another bonus for me, is that the course is four years long and the summer holidays last a long time!

What attracted you to study in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a city I have always loved. I knew I wanted a change of scene and wanted to study abroad. I was also excited about living in Edinburgh because it’s so vibrant, with a great music and arts scene, and loads of great places to eat and drink. As someone who grew up in the rural countryside, this was a very exciting opportunity for me. However, I didn’t want to be too far away from my family. Edinburgh is close enough to home that I can fly straight from here to multiple airports in Ireland, so this made it a great option for me.

The Course

What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been the highlight?

The highlight of my course has been meeting all my classmates and making really good friends. It's been such a great way to meet so many different kinds of people but we are all tied together through nursing. It have given us all a really unique bond that I think would be hard to find elsewhere.

Have you participated in a course activity you found especially interesting?

Placements have been the most interesting part of my course. It is through these that I learnt the most and had experiences that I would never of had otherwise. Placements gave me the chance to explore different types of nursing and shadow other professions, for example seeing an organ retrieval in theatre for donation, shadowing doctors in an Intensive Care Unit, shadowing physiotherapists and occupational therapists, working in the community with midwives. All of these experiences gave me such a good perspective of the NHS and all the different kinds of opportunities that are out there for me in my own career. Placements really allowed me to develop as a nurse.

How have your lecturers supported your learning?

The lecturers have been great in supporting our learning. This was done by having regular Personal Academic Tutor meetings, and drop-in sessions after classes, not to mention that our lecturers were always speedy and very helpful with email replies! They also organized extra things for us to do, such as visiting the Surgeon's Hall Museum and getting us involved in teaching of the younger years students.

What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge by far has been the covid-19 outbreak. Initially it halted placements and university work, but with the amazing work by the university we are now back out on placements and work has continued. Learning to adapt to online classes has been challenging but it's definitely possible. We still had three or four classes on-site at university, so we really made the best of what we had.

I guess how I have dealt with it is just by thinking that this isn’t going to last forever really focusing on writing my dissertation and doing what I can. We are really lucky, because the whole thing has been made so much easier from the help of our lecturers.

Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in applying for this course?

My advice would be to apply! It’s a great university and offers so much to its students, especially now with the new Master's programme. I think if you can get some experience working as a health care assistant beforehand, that would be a really good way of gauging if nursing is for you or not. But it's also important to remember that there are so many different kinds of nursing and the career options are endless!

The Student Experience

Have you been a part of any extracurricular programmes (e.g. mentoring or volunteering) during your time as a student at QMU? If so, how has it helped you develop skills and experience?

Throughout being a Nursing student at QMU we have been involved with working with the years below us. For example this year I have been helping with the Nursing year 2 and Nursing year 3 clinical supervision sessions whilst they are out on placement and this has involved facilitating the sessions and giving quick refreshers on clinical skills like recording Electrocardiograms. It has definitely helped me develop my mentoring skills, which is really important as it's something we are expected to do once we are qualified. I also think just working with the younger years has helped me develop communication and leadership skills.

What QMU student services have you used (e.g. Effective Learning Service (ELS) or the ‘Employer and Enterprise Mentoring Program’ or the Wellbeing Service) to support you through your university journey and how have they helped you?

When I was in my first year I used the ELS a lot. I found the jump from secondary school to university quite a challenge in terms of the standard of work that I had to produce. The ELS was great because I was able to book one-on-one sessions and they helped my develop my skills in academic writing. They helped me get to grips with how to use the online databases and conduct effective literature searches.

Are you a member of any clubs or societies at QMU? If so, what was the reason you joined and what do you enjoy most about it?

In first year I joined the snow sports society. I used it as a way of getting to know people and make some friends. It was great fun with lots of trips and partying!

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

My top tip is just to be enthusiastic to learn and to get involved in lots of stuff. The university offers so much to do, and it's really worth your while to take them up on all their offers. See and do as much as you can. The four years of university go really quickly so enjoy them!

What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?

University has really taught me how to be independent and organized. When there is so much going on it's really important to get organized and learn to depend on yourself to get stuff done. The university can offer heaps of support but at the end of the day it's you that has to get the task done.

After QMU

What are you plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?

After graduation I plan to work. I really want to get a couple of years’ worth of experience first. This is mainly just to get to grips with being a newly graduated nurse and to put everything that I have learnt into practice. Eventually I want to do a postgraduate course in Tropical Nursing. This is a great course to do if you want to work abroad for non-governmental organizations in various countries. I'm just excited to get my career going!

Story published in February 2021