A dream come true for Carluke mum and nurse Nicola Hehir
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Nicola Hehir (36) always wanted to become a qualified nurse, but circumstances meant she didn’t have the opportunity to go to university.
While working as a health care support worker in accident and emergency, she received an email about Scotland’s nursing degree programme with the OU.
Nicola said: “I realised this was the opportunity that suited me. I could remain in employment, continue working within a team I value, while also progressing towards my life goal of qualifying as a nurse. Now I have achieved my qualification I am excited about my future as a nurse.”
Alongside funding her BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult) degree, her NHS employer was “amazing” from the very start of the programme.
She said: “Once I commenced the programme, my department was fully informed of the requirements of the course and every member of my senior nursing team worked with me to ensure my rota was also supportive of my studies.”
This included placements in coronary care and spinal high dependency units and also with community teams, which involved visiting some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable patients in their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic to provide treatments with the aim of keeping people well and out of hospital.
As well as the pressure of studying and working in the NHS during the pandemic, Nicola’s partner was in an accident and was admitted to hospital for a month for multiple surgeries.
Just before completing her degree, she faced a new personal challenge.
She said: “I lost my gran and found out I was expecting a baby – despite years of infertility. This became quite scary as I was worried about working while pregnant, and I found it challenging to focus on the academic work while feeling unwell with first trimester symptoms.”
Nicola received a First-class Honours degree and is due to start as an A&E staff nurse at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Govan after her maternity leave.
She added: “In 17 years with the NHS. I have seen so many inspiring nurses and I can’t wait to start my career following in their footsteps.”