Fashionably late

Arthur Louis explains his post-retirement decision to retrain as a nurse, and says age hasn't hindered him a bit

June 3, 2010

I made a decision to retrain as a nurse at the tender age of 59. I applied to the University of Wolverhampton - and absolutely loved it.

I had spent years working in the manufacturing industry and eventually started my own company. When the time came to retire, I sold my company and set off for a life of peace and relaxation in Cyprus.

But within six months, I realised that it wasn't the life for me. While I was out there, I met a doctor and saw some of the patients he helped. When I came back, I reflected on my life and thought about what I wanted to do. I decided to apply to Wolverhampton to study for a higher education diploma in nursing. I was offered a place, subject to a suitable reference from my last employer - which, of course, was me.

I started at the School of Health and Wellbeing in January 2007. I was self-conscious due to my age when I first started; however, all the young people I met were very helpful and supportive and we laughed and joked together.

The lecturers there were excellent and help was always available. All the lecturers are ex-nurses so they have real experience to share. Having been on the front line, when asked a question they were able to give a factual answer based on their experience and knowledge. It was the more insignificant things I found difficult - for instance, a lot of the work we did was at home and on computers and I'm not an expert on computers.

The university course was hard work but it was fantastic and I would recommend it to anybody. As a student nurse, I did three seven-week long placements a year in a medical environment to gain real experience.

The university also has a skills lab, a "mock ward" where we received practical training in specific skills. I found being with the younger people beneficial as their enthusiasm to become nurses only added to my own. Everybody I have met along the journey, not only fellow students but also all the hospital staff I have worked with at the different placements, has been supportive and helpful.

I am an "older" mature student, which I recognise; however, thanks to the total support that I received from the university where I trained, and now from my work colleagues, I don't feel old. I was treated in exactly the same way as the other students. I would encourage other mature people to consider a course at higher education level in anything they are interested in. I have nothing but praise for the University of Wolverhampton. In my mind, they took a big chance on offering me a place, for which I will be forever grateful.

My initial ambition was to complete my training and become qualified, after which I planned to carry out volunteer work as a nurse abroad. However, during my final year of training, I realised I needed far more nursing experience to be of any value to the patients I would treat. For this reason, added to the fact that I have become very attached to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, I applied for a position as a nurse in the accident and emergency department. At the age of 63, I was delighted to be offered a position. It has turned out to be even better than I imagined and I love every minute of every day I am there.

The only regret I have is that I did not do this earlier in life. I have always been ambitious and striven to reach the top, but I don't have sufficient working years left in the profession to gain the required experience to progress further. Ideally I would like to become a specialist nurse, but if they increase the retirement age to 67, I still have aspirations to become a junior charge nurse. Only time will tell.

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