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Sarah Beechey: 3-time Nursing Time Awards Nominee

4 April 2023

Sarah representing the Skills Development Service

Get to know the final year nursing student who has been shortlisted in three different categories in the Student Nursing Times Awards 2023.

Just a few weeks ago, final year nursing student Sarah received an email saying that she had been shortlisted for The Student Nursing Times’ Student of the Year (Adult Nursing) Award. Shortly after, two further emails came through informing her that that she had been shortlisted for another two awards, Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs and Most Inspirational Student Nurse of the Year. She is not only one of the few students to be nominated for more than one award, but also the only student in Wales nominated. She never imagined that any of this would happen, and is grateful to her colleague for having the initial idea to nominate her. As she prepares for the next interview stage of the awards, she reflects on her time at Cardiff University, and gives us an insight into her experience as a student nurse.

Sarah didn’t take the conventional path into nursing – after leaving school without any A-levels, she worked at a pharmacy and thought university was never in the picture. With the support of her husband and through finding an access course at her local college, however, she was able to apply for the Adult Nursing course as a mature student, and fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Once starting her degree, she took full advantage of opportunities the university had to offer – like getting involved as a student mentor and mentor consultant, student peer trainer with the Skills Development Service, student representative, taking part in various committees, and much more. Much of the work she does alongside her studies is to help improve the staff/patient experience on the ward, as well as improving past and present students’ experience at the University.

Looking back on her three years at Cardiff University, Sarah notes how amazing it was to meet such supportive friends on her course, especially Alice, Kristiina and Leigh, who were able to see her confidence grow and help her become the person she is now. She also reflects on her experience with juggling her dissertation and placement, and preparing yourself for that mentally when entering your final year. ‘It was especially hard completing the dissertation over Christmas.’ She notes. ‘That’s when I had planned to do a load of work, and I somehow caught COVID for the first time! With being ill and other unexpected life events happening, my dissertation plans went completely out the window and I felt very behind, especially as a big planner.’

Her mindset around the dissertation shifted when she understood that it is a difficult piece of work meant to challenge the student, and whilst it’s important to do the best you can to plan ahead, things may not always work out, and it’s ok to reset, redirect, and do the best you can to stay on track. 'Everything you do has to be balanced with self-care – it is a tough degree, and a tough time to be a nurse, but equally it’s never been more rewarding either. You’ve got to find your mechanisms for coping with the difficult days, that’s essential.'

One piece of advice that Sarah would like to give to those just starting their nursing degree is to get involved in the opportunities the university has to offer, and get as much out of the experience as you can. She wants people to not be afraid to try new things, and find out what they’re most passionate about through trial and error. One of the key things students learn both in the classroom and on placement is critical evaluation - considering all sides of an argument before making a final decision - and it’s essential to apply that to every aspect of your life to know what’s right for you, and to love what you do.

We wish Sarah the best of luck in the next round of the Student Nursing Times Awards. If you would like to reach out to her directly, you can find her on Twitter @Sarahjbearbanan.

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