A Year Can Change Your Life; from Sixth Form Drop Out to Senior Vascular Specialist Nurse - Cambridge Regional College
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A Year Can Change Your Life; from Sixth Form Drop Out to Senior Vascular Specialist Nurse

Senior Vascular Specialist Nurse, Vicky Bristow, credits the Access to Higher Education course at Cambridge Regional College with transforming her life and career prospects. A journey from struggling with the traditional A-level route and dropping out of sixth form to a respected vascular specialist nurse and representative on the Society of Vascular Nurses UK committee in a job she loves.    

Vicky, 33, who studied the Access to HE (Nursing) course over 10 years ago at the age of 21, says it “has impacted my whole life… I genuinely would not be where I am today without it”.

“Without studying at CRC, I would not have been able to apply to university and reach my goal of training to become a registered nurse. All the tutors prepared me for the next step in education helping to make me an independent learner and getting the best out of me by helping me to identify my own learning styles.”

Vicky now works as a senior vascular specialist nurse and is studying for an MSc, added: “During secondary school I found the more practical coursework driven subjects much easier. I was never good at exams. I was pushed to do my A-Levels but I really struggled with them and dropped out of sixth form college. Whilst pondering what I was going to do next I applied at a local hospital for a health care assistant job on a neurosurgical ward looking after patients following brain and spinal surgery. I loved it!

Vicky Bristow, Senior Vascular Specialist Nurse, and Access to Higher Education Alumni

“Whilst working as a healthcare assistant I was looking at career options of how I could get into university to study nursing and the access to higher education came up when looking at what the university would accept and was able to find the course at CRC. They also offered an evening course which meant that I could continue to work gaining vital experience but also gain the qualifications I needed to apply for university.

“I am now a senior vascular specialist nurse and love my job. I also sit on the society of vascular nurses UK committee and regularly talk at local, regional and European events; something I never thought I would be capable of. I’ve also been an external vascular specialist nurse providing an advisory role to other trusts in Wales. Currently to further my knowledge and allow me to progress to my dream role as a vascular nurse consultant I am undertaking an MSc in clinical nursing something I never thought I would be capable off.”

The Access to Higher Education qualification is designed to get students the initial qualification they need to progress to undergraduate courses at university. They are offered across a range of specialisms to open access to university including science, humanities, social sciences, business, health professions and health and social care.

Dr Helen West, Head of Higher Education and Access, Cambridge Regional College, said “Seeing what our students go on to achieve, exemplified in Vicky’s journey, is simply incredible. To have been a part of that journey is a privilege to be able to empower individuals to achieve their full potential is why we’re so passionate about the power of the right educational support.  

“So, if someone feels they might not have gained the grades needed to go straight to university, or they have been out of education for a while and feel less confident in themselves, we can nurture their learning through this programme, all in a wholly supportive environment.”

All Access to Higher Education course information can be found via the CRC website, www.camre.ac.uk/access or by calling 01223 226315.

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