May 06 2022

How a foundation year boosted my confidence


Meet Nicola, one of our incredible Healthcare Management students. We caught up with Nicola to hear more about how studying with a foundation year helped hone her study skills and prepared her to return to education, as well as how volunteering is helping her get the experience she needs to take her career to the next level. 

Hi Nicola, what are you studying with us currently? 

Hi there, I’m Nicola and I’m studying Healthcare Management.

Why did you want to join Arden University?

I was a healthcare assistant for about five years. I wanted to join nursing but realised that I couldn't. I always looked at universities where students were doing five days a week in uni - three days in with two days placement – but I wanted a course that would fit in with my work. Then, I was scrolling through Facebook, and an ad about Arden came up, and how they accommodate flexible learners, so I signed up. 

I wanted to apply for a foundation year, because I hadn't been in school for a couple of years, and I felt like I didn't have any idea what to do. Before Arden, I went for an induction with another university, and I didn't feel comfortable. I cried and came back home before it was finished. When I went to Arden though, I felt accommodated and saw there are other adult students like me. 

How have you found studying with us, especially during the pandemic?

I did blended learning and for the first few months I was struggling to manage my time. However, I spoke to student support and they told me about study skills resources on Ilearn and workshops which really helped me a lot. I realised every time I ask for help, help is there for me. I'm on my last year now, and I can't wait to finish and get my degree.

In the pandemic, it worked well for me, to be honest with you. As a class, we had a WhatsApp group and if you had problems, somebody would help. it was just a matter of getting connected. Although I missed the interaction that we have in class/ doing group work.

What are you hoping to do after you’ve graduated? 

When I was in my second year, I joined the CWPT voluntary programme. I told them, I was doing a health care management course, which doesn't offer any work experience and I wanted to volunteer to know what health care managers do. I go there for two hours a week. So there is a healthcare manager in one of their wards not far from me. I go there, see what she's doing, and they give me some tasks to do. I thought it will help me when I graduate, because I've never been a manager before and when I graduate, it will help me get a good reference and a bit of an idea of what healthcare managers do. 

How did you find out about that?

One of the lecturers advised us actually, because one of the guys in class asked that because we don't do a placement, how can we get references when we are going to apply for jobs? The lecturer said they have work experience programmes across many companies. All you need to do is just write an email to any company that you think is suitable for you. So that's what I did. I applied on the NHS website, and they told me about the trust that was closest to me. Now I go in and shadow a healthcare manager.

And how has this experience fed into what you’ve been doing studying?

There's a particular example I love which was about the ways organisations like the police and social workers work hand-in-hand. I was doing as an assignment about a lady who was looking for care, so I was asking questions like what do social workers do, how do other organisations get involved? And the person I'm shadowing said I could go through her notes and what she'd written about individuals as long as I remembered about confidentiality and stuff, so I got a great idea of how these teams work together.

What is your life like outside of studying? How do you fit in your studying?

I study mainly at the weekend or in the evening. As soon as we get the assessment I try, by all means, to do at least 200 words a day. I do about two hours every day, but during the weekend, that's when I give my time to my assignments. 

What sort of things do you do for fun, as well as for relaxation?

I love cooking and I like cleaning around the house. I don't like noisy scenarios, but I try to go and socialise with people at least once a month.

What skills do you feel like you've developed? 

My communication is way better. I used to be a bit shy, but I think being in a classroom environment, debating points, and sharing ideas, has really made me a confident communicator. I also know how to manage my time now and how to do research faster. Even my computer skills have upgraded. I never used to need that because I was a carer you see, but I've definitely added new skills.

To find out how a degree from Arden University could change your life please visit our course pages