Tina Taylor is a health visitor working for Flying Start Carmarthenshire, the Welsh Government initiative for vulnerable families in Wales.
Tina, who graduates from the MSc Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting course in July, has been shortlisted for the Nursing Times Learner of the Year (Post Registration) Award in April.
"I didn't finish school, so l left with no qualifications at all. Anyone that knew me back then would be very surprised to learn that I've now got a Masters!
When I was 33, I did an Access into Health course, and from there I did my Midwifery.
I loved being a midwife. When my colleagues were retiring in 2011, it felt like the right time to change career. Health visiting felt like a natural progression because I would still be working with families in the communities I knew and loved so well.
Embarking on the SCPHN course at USW was daunting at first - the brain cells are that bit rustier every time you go back into education. However, once I got going, I enjoyed the challenge, and loved learning something new.
The biggest challenge was motivating myself to work every evening and weekend. I worked really hard on my dissertation, almost every day for a year, and often until the early hours. Although I did well in my dissertation, writing does not come naturally to me; I did have to talk myself into doing the work.
I used the Study Skills Team at the beginning of the year. They advised me to make plans and mind maps to help with ordering my thoughts.
Although the dissertation was frustrating at times, especially if I couldn't find evidence for what I wanted to say, it was also rewarding.
I learnt so much about the importance of scientific enquiry and of evaluating evidence so that it can be incorporated into practice. I was surprised to find that I can write quite well - and equally surprised to find that I miss it now that it is finished.
My dissertation looked at the health visitor's role in preventing unintentional injuries. Despite being the leading cause of death for those aged 1-19, unintentional injuries are a much over-looked area of public health, so I am trying to raise the profile of injury prevention/ home safety in the UK.
My lecturers Michelle Thomas and Professor David Pontin were extremely supportive throughout the process and are now encouraging me to get it published.
The best parts of the course were meeting the other students on the course and learning with them. We all came from different nursing/midwifery backgrounds, but we all had the same fears and aspirations while on the SCPHN course. The course was very 'full' and there was assignment after assignment, but we all grew together. We all survived. We all passed!
I think that we were very lucky to have done our SCPHN course in USW. I live and work in Carmarthenshire. Most of the health visitors there went to college in Swansea. I do not hear many of my Swansea colleagues say that they enjoyed the SCPHN process at all. At USW I think that the SCPHN course was very well structured, and the support from the lecturers was great."