Mature student Victoria Gibson, is an inspiration to all women, being a single mother of a child with additional needs, a carer for her grandmother, a learning disabilities student nurse, a part-time bank nurse, and more recently a blogger.
Victoria is studying her second degree, with the first being in music, in which she is a classically trained singer. She knows how it feels to be a patient of the NHS, as she’s experienced repeated operations for back problems. Her experience as a patient is helping to shape the nurse she wants to become, following her course.
What did you decide to study nursing?
When I was studying my music degree, I fell pregnant and ended up graduating with a daughter! I didn’t establish a career in the music industry and ended up doing a counselling diploma. Following this, I became a support worker for people with learning disability and mental health illnesses for 11 years. Wanting to make a difference, I found there were many barriers to drive change, which is what drew me towards Bachelor of Nursing (Hons)(Learning Disabilities).
How has your personal experience with the NHS helped to shape the nurse you want to become?
At age 13, I suffered from back issues, and on my 26th birthday, I had my first spinal operation. I’ve had five in total. The build-up to them was a negative experience. I was told, as a teenager, that the issues I had were psychological. Training to be a learning disabilities nurse, I’ve learned you don’t assume anything about your patients. It’s imperative to give them a choice and to communicate with them, on their level. The care I received following my diagnosis was positive. So, the negative and positive care is helping to shape the kind of nurse I want to be.
How do you balance university, work and family?
It’s not easy being a single mum, with a child with additional needs. I’m also a carer for my grandmother, alongside university, placements and bank working. So, I need to be organised, with a good routine. So, when my daughter plays football, I work in the car, this is because I’m forever conscious of time for my uni work. I also take on board the support the university has in place. The supervisions are vital and help me to improve my grades and take the pressure off. The key to succeeding is to know your capacity and how much you can cope with. I’ve learnt from my own mistakes, and it’s helped me identify my limitations.
What is your blog about?
I use my blog ‘My Journey into Nursing’ to speak about why I chose to study learning disability nursing, how I previously felt as an NHS patient, and why communication with patients and their families is so important. I also talk about the opportunities I’ve had through studying nursing, including my recent trip to Finland. I find writing the blog cathartic, looking at my practice and others. I want to use the blog to show people what they’re capable of, and the opportunities that are out there.
What was the highlight of your student nursing trip to Finland?
The trip to Finland was Fantastic! One of the highlights was I sang to open the final day of the conference. It wasn’t something planned. During the trip, we had a session on ‘Am I the only one to…’. which led to me singing for the group. It was something that completely surprised everyone. I’ve been a classically trained singer for 20 years, and now that the nursing staff are aware, I'm becoming busy singing at events, such as the Year of the Nurse & Midwife Celebrations and a Student Learning Disability Nursing Conference.