31 October 2019

Kerrina’s story of career progression from a Rehabilitation Assistant (RA) to obtaining an MSc in advancing Healthcare Practice

Whilst Kerrina had wanted to be a nurse since childhood, she initially found herself working in Hospitality Management. Although it was enjoyable enough, it just didn’t fulfill her desire to help others and make a difference.

The starting point of this journey was an Access to HE course in Health and Social Care. It was whilst undertaking this course that she was referred to Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU) by a friend who was already working at BIRU. Soon after the successful completion of the Access to HE course in Health and Social Care, Kerrina was offered place at the University of the West of England to study her BSc in Adult Nursing. All this while, Kerrina carried on working part time as an RA.

Kerrina started work at BIRU in 2010 as an (RA) whilst studying for her Access to HE course in Health and Social Care and then her BSc degree in Adult Nursing. With 20-hours of shifts to undertake as well as a full-time degree course Kerrina needed commitment and resilience, both of which she obviously has in abundance. This was however, the beginning of her understanding of the calibre of the BIRU team and how much support they would offer. Not only were the team professionally supportive but enabled her to work shifts that allowed her to continue to study, adding in extra shifts where she felt she had capacity. This level of support has since stayed with Kerrina.

On completion of her BSc, Kerrina stayed as a bank nurse at BIRU, however she moved to an Acute Trust as she felt it was important to expand her exposure to different types of nursing. In the Trust, Kerrina was able to experience a variety of wards but mainly Vascular and Urology. Whilst the experience enabled her to broaden her skillset, she found it less rewarding. Kerrina, says that part of what makes BIRU special is seeing the patient’s journey, ‘most patients are admitted bed-bound and unable to carry out the most basic of tasks or, in some cases, communicate. Seeing those same patients being discharged walking out of the service just months or so later and thanks to the team’s input is incredibly rewarding’. For Kerrina, being part of a patient’s journey and witnessing significant changes in outcome like this was something that simply didn’t happen often in the more short-stay acute hospital setting.

After just two and a half years at the Acute Trust, Kerrina returned to BIRU on a full-time basis as a qualified RGN. She explains that whilst the satisfaction of contributing to patients’ journey to recovery was part of the decision, another factor that contributed to this move was the support offered by the people Kerrina had encountered when working as an RA. This meant a great deal and she felt that working in such a supportive environment would make the good days even better and the hard days manageable. She also wanted to work in an environment where supporting each other as well as patients was acknowledged as fundamental to delivering great care.

Back at BIRU as a registered nurse, Kerrina found the same supportive environment that she remembered. It was with the support of both her manager and the hospital director that Kerrina then applied to do an MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice. She undertook the three-year course, which was fully funded by The Huntercombe Group on a part-time basis whilst working on a full time.

The road to completing the MSc has not always been an easy one and has required strength of character, commitment and resilience. Kerrina lost her father in the final days of the programme. Kerrina says that ‘undertaking this course has boosted her belief in self, team and the sky being the limit for anyone with determination and who is prepared to work hard. Kerrina says this course has helped her to improve her rapport with colleagues, service users and the outside world. Her understanding of the organization and what it stands for and endeavors to achieve has grown and this is allowing her to better serve the organization. Kerrina reports that her professional horizon has been widened and she has now been promoted to the role of Senior Staff Nurse.

Kerrina is eternally grateful to the Huntercombe Group for creating this opportunity to allow her to fulfill personal and professional goals, to the management at BIRU for all the support and encouragement; and to her late dad who she says  instilled a high degree of appreciation of the importance of education from a tender age.

Kerrina graduates in November this year and we look forward to seeing the photos and continuing to share her journey.