Submit your email address below to receive email updates from Cumbria24.
The school holidays have been meticulously planned for student Anna Jacobs, juggling quality time with her kids and the demands of studying for success in her dream career.
The single mother of two from Hawkshead, Cumbria has returned to study at the University of Cumbria thanks to the support of a government funded bursary.
After five years out to raise her children, six year old Izzy and Finn, four, former teacher and nurse Anna, 38, made the decision to get her formerly successful career back on track.
Anna said: “I had studied as a nurse in Manchester and worked in mental health nursing but I think I was too young at the time for a job in mental health. I retrained as a primary teacher at the former St. Martin’s College in Carlisle in 2000 and spent a few years doing this in Macclesfield and Buxton before having my children.
“My son had a lot of health problems and we spent a lot of time with health visitors. He was deaf and he suffered from asthma amongst other things. This had a big impact on me too and the health visitors were really a godsend to us.
“It was then that I decided I wanted to look into health visiting when I finally returned to work.”
After splitting up with her husband, struggling financially, seeing her son’s health improve and then watching the kids start school, Anna decided the time was right to get her career kick started. She enrolled on the return to practice course at the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria in 2010.
After completing this and doing some work as a bank nurse at the Westmorland General Hospital, a chance discovery by her ex husband led to Anna applying for a government funded place on a health visiting programme.
“It all happened very quickly” she said. “My ex husband spotted this opportunity in the local newspaper and I jumped at the chance to apply. I was on holiday in Cornwall at the time but took some time to fill in the forms and just two weeks after applying and passing, I was accepted onto the course and I started my first day in September!”
Anna added: “Without the bursary and the subsidised course there is no way I could have managed to follow my ambition to be a health visitor. Being a single parent, finances are tight, so this has really helped.
“I have to plan my time well to ensure that I can study but I have lots of support from my parents and even the community within the village. It’s really nice to have that opportunity to get back to work and to study too. I really feel like I’m doing something for me.”
The new health visiting programme (Graduate Diploma Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting) was developed to meet the increasing demand for more health visitors. The Department of Health’s Health Visiting Implementation Plan identified that the North West needed to increase its health visiting workforce to meet the growing demands on the service over the coming years.
To support this, a 2011 bursary scheme targeted newly qualified nurses or midwives not in permanent employment, or nursing or midwifery students who had completed in September 2011. People employed within an NHS provider service or currently studying on a secondment to training basis were eligible to apply but did not receive a bursary.
Jo Blake, Principal Lecturer in community and public health said: “Health visiting is an interesting and challenging job, which aims to improve the health of families and children in the first crucial years of their life.
“Anna has a real passion for the role, along with a good background in mental health nursing, as well as life experience to inform her practice. Equally, we have students on the health visiting bursary scheme who have come straight into the programme from their pre-registration nursing course.
“The scheme is open to people from a variety of routes. We currently have seven bursary students on the programme this year, with more places expected to be available from next year.”
Anna commented: “I feel very lucky that the opportunity has arisen for me to get my career back on track and I am really excited about becoming a health visitor. I think I have the life skills and the experience to make a real difference to people and I would love the opportunity to support families who went through the struggles I did after having my son.”
For more information about courses at the University of Cumbria visit www.cumbria.ac.uk