Placement student joins Shepton Mallet

When her children left home for university and boarding school, Kelly Allen knew it was the time to fulfil a dream and train for a role in health care.

“I had been working with my husband in the family electrical business, Install Electrical (Wells) Ltd, for nearly 30 years,” said Kelly. “I ran the shop side of the business which allowed me to work and raise both my daughters. I did the company accounts, wages, sold white goods, sourced spares, carried out on-site portable appliance testing and repaired domestic equipment such as vacuum cleaners.

“When I left school I wanted to be a paramedic. When my oldest daughter left for the University of Plymouth to study children’s nursing, it started me thinking. I didn’t think I was clever enough and I hadn’t put the effort into school, but I spoke to my husband Philip about applying to university to be a nurse. Even though it meant closing the shop side of the business, he knew I had been thinking about becoming a care assistant and that watching my sister Natasha recently qualify as a midwife had given me the confidence to believe in myself more.”

With both children away from home and the support of her husband, Kelly applied for a role as a bank health care assistant at Weston Area Health Trust.

“Even though I had no experience they took me on and I started there in 2017, allowing me to gain care experience and continue to work part-time for our company. I started maths and English GCSE night classes at Strode College to improve my grades, and then got a second bank job at North Bristol NHS Trust.”

Kelly then applied for the Foundation Programme for Health Professions course at the University of the West of England (UWE) – “when they rang me a week after my interview to say they could offer me a place, I cried,” said Kelly.

She added: “I started the course in September 2018 and the first year is a joint one between UWE and City of Bristol College. I have made amazing friends with similar outlooks, discovered that I have dyslexia (which in no way has held me back) and completed my first year with an average of over 80% in 10 subjects.”

She is now studying for a BSc in Adult Nursing at UWE.

Kelly has also become a Student Ambassador at UWE. She said: “When I went for the open day I was ushered into a room for mature students – but there wasn’t anyone over 25! I became a student ambassador to support people like me, as it can be quite overwhelming to be surrounded by people of your children’s generation.”

Kelly said: “Becoming a nurse allows me to meet so many fascinating people. I can be part of a team who humanise a patient’s care experience and make a difference to their care journey. I have become passionate about my studies, I love learning and researching and I constantly ask a million questions to the teams I work with – who especially at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre have been willing to take the time to teach me new skills and make me feel part of the family.”

Looking to the future, Kelly thinks it is hard to say where she wants to end up in her nursing career until she has spent time at different places in different specialties. She said: “My time at Shepton Mallet Treatment Centre has shown me job possibilities I hadn’t considered before. Working in theatres is fascinating, where the teams work seamlessly and are so welcoming, or the ward where you get to see patients at the start and end of their hospital journey and how great nursing aids their recovery. At this moment in time I hope to work in A&E, progress to a Masters degree and qualify as an advanced practitioner.”

Kelly has already given advice to people like her who are considering a move into nursing. She said: “If you love something then go for it. You’re never too old and don’t ever doubt yourself. The team at Shepton Mallet Treatment Centre have shown me by example the nurse I want to become.”

She added: “When you are on a night shift and you find yourself standing in the sluice holding a rather full bedpan, smiling and telling yourself how much you love your job, then you know it’s definitely something that you want to do!”

Catherine Farr, Head of Nursing and Clinical Services at Shepton Mallet Treatment Centre, commented: “We are delighted to have welcomed Kelly to our team as a student nurse. We are fully committed to supporting local nurse training programmes, especially in this International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. It takes a special type of person to want to join the nursing profession and we do all we can to encourage and nurture nursing talent.”