Mum quits insurance job to become A&E nurse – with a helping hand from Keele
A former insurance worker has become an A&E nurse after taking the bold step to retrain.
Karen Estcourt had spent almost 10 years working in finance when she decided she needed a career change at the age of 30.
She said: "I'd been in the same job for almost 10 years, and it got to the point where I was doing the same thing every day. I was having the same discussions, doing the same work and meeting the same people. My family could see I was unhappy, and I knew I had to make a change."
Karen saw a job advertised for a healthcare assistant with Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at Leighton Hospital, near Crewe, and decided to take a huge leap of faith. And it wasn't long before her colleagues spotted her talent in the role and encouraged her to progress her career further.
She said: "Becoming a healthcare assistant at the hospital is one of the best things I've ever done – it was genuinely life-changing. People say in some jobs, no day is the same, but in that role, no hour was ever the same.
"Progressing to a nursing role was something I’d always wanted to do, but I kept talking myself out of it for a long time. I had three children at home and didn’t have the spare time for anything else, and that is the excuse I kept making for about nine years. Then one day an apprenticeship became available at Keele University, and I knew deep inside that it was a great opportunity. The university has always had a good reputation for the students it develops into nurses within our trust and my colleagues all told me to go for it."
Karen, who lives in Crewe, was successful in her interview and joined Keele's Registered Nurse Apprenticeship in 2020. The programme is made up of theory studied at Keele and practice hours based at Leighton Hospital.
And today the 43-year-old, now a mother of four, received her degree as part of Keele's winter graduation ceremonies.
Karen is now working as an A&E nurse at Leighton Hospital. Last year she was shortlisted in the NHS Rising Star category at the NHS Parliamentary Awards, after devising a new bed management system to help efficiency at the hospital built on learning about innovation and business plans as part of her studies on the adult nursing pathway.
She said: "I wouldn't change where I am now for anything. I love my job in A&E and the incredible teamwork that goes into looking after patients across all the different roles - it really is an amazing team effort.
"You meet so many different people and when you've looked after a patient and find out their outcome at the end, to know you have made a little bit of a difference to them and the care they received is just an amazing feeling. You really can't beat that for job satisfaction."
And she hopes to inspire others that it is never too late to retrain and start their dream career.
She said: "I talked myself out of it and made excuses for a long time. My biggest piece of advice would be to not do that. If you want to do something, then make it work for you.
"An apprenticeship is a unique experience because you start your learning as part of a team, whcih I really enjoyed. The support from Keele has been brilliant. They were fully aware a lot of people on the course had other factors going on in their lives, and were incredibly supportive. I never felt under pressure and always felt like I had somebody to talk to."
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