From education to employment

“Face Your Fears and Have The Career You Dream Of” – How Lynsey’s Return to Education Led Her From Hair Salon to Theatre Nurse

Lynsey McLaughlin

Restarting education is a big step for anyone. But at SERC (@S_ERC) we have a range of programmes and support in place to take you were you want to go, whether you feel you missed out at school, didn’t reach your full potential, want to be able to help your children with their homework or would like to get on a pathway that is going to lead to a career.

We’re sharing the stories of real people who returned to education for a range of reasons. Be inspired to restart your education as Lynsey shares her story…

Lynsey McLaughlin, (37) from Lisburn is mum to Jamie (14) and Joshua (10). She graduated this month from Queen’s University Belfast from the BSc in Adult Nursing with a 2:1 and has commenced work with the Ulster Independent Clinic as a Theatre Nurse – part of their newly qualified nurse programme. Lynsey was shortlisted for the RCN Student Nurse of the Year and nominated by one of her lecturers for the Nursing Times Student Nurse of the Year, to be announced later this year. She said;

“I was a fully qualified hairdresser and had worked for 16 years before deciding I wanted to do something different. I had always been interested in hospitals and nursing so about five years ago, when my kids were up a bit, I decided if I didn’t do something now, I would never do it and would be living with regrets and ‘what ifs’?

I enrolled in the full time 2-year Access course at SERC’s Lisburn Campus and the plan from the outset was to get to university to do nursing. It was hard work as, at the time, I was a single parent, but I had a lot of support and encouragement, especially from my mum who was fantastic helping with childcare arrangements. The Access course is flexible though, there is time to do the school runs and the pick-ups and if you have missed a day, you get the support you need to catch up. I did well and was delighted to be accepted to Queen’s University Belfast to the BSc in Adult Nursing on my first application. The course was full on, but you manage. You very quickly prioritise what needs done and what can wait, and the time flies by.

“I cannot believe that five years ago I was a hairdresser and now I am a Theatre Nurse who completed my training in the middle of a pandemic. My family, my partner Chris and my children are so proud of me and I am proud of myself that I was able to face all my fears and take that leap of faith in myself to have the career I always wanted to have.

She concluded, “I have just graduated at 37 years old, and some of my fellow students on the access course were older than me, proof that it’s never too late. If there’s something in the back of your mind that you’ve always wanted to do, then go for it.”

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