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This International Nurses Day The Open University, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University have come together to celebrate the diversity of the nursing profession and promote nursing as a career for all.

The current pandemic has highlighted the important role nurses play in our healthcare system. Our nurses have worked tirelessly to deliver high quality care in hospitals and healthcare settings across NI, supporting patients and their families during this difficult time.

Nurses and Midwives make up 35% of the total health and social care workforce and each year Northern Ireland’s universities welcome over 1000 new student nurses to start their journey into nursing.

The three universities have teamed up to create an online resource highlighting nursing a career path for anyone who is caring and compassionate regardless of their age, gender or background. The website includes a wealth of information on everything you need to know about becoming a registered nurse in Northern Ireland.

Chief Nursing Officer Professor Charlotte McArdle welcomed this joint venture by Northern Ireland’s Universities:

“As Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, I am delighted to support the launch of this new online resource promoting nursing as a career choice for all and congratulate the Universities on their creativity in coming together to oversee its development. Nursing is a wonderful profession that embraces diversity and offers a richly rewarding career pathway to people from all backgrounds. This online resource showcases nursing as a welcoming profession for all and I would encourage its use and wide dissemination.”

To highlight the diversity of the nursing workforce and the richness this brings to the profession, student nurses from the three universities have been sharing their stories of what led them to pursue a career in nursing.

Ulster University second year nursing student Belle Stevenson always liked the thought of becoming a nurse but was not very academic at school. She came to nursing later in life and has not looked back. Belle explains:

"You could say I took the scenic route in life. But thanks to all of my life experiences, both good and bad, I decided that I wanted to be able to give something back and make a difference to those who are suffering.  Since starting my degree in Nursing, I have learned that age is not a barrier, whether you are mature or starting nursing earlier in life. We all can make a difference.”

Carol Walmsley, a second year Adult Nursing student with The Open University studies whilst holding down a job within her local trust.

“I went into Nursing to fulfil a lifelong ambition to help and care for others, that I didn’t get to achieve when I was younger.

“I chose The Open University as I could do so whilst working for my local trust. Their course had a great reputation, working in conjunction with the trust, for supporting and encouraging individuals. The OU option worked alongside my family commitments.”

Eddie McArdle second year student studying mental health nursing at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University, said:

“I wanted to do something in my career that is challenging, interesting, and makes a difference.

“If you believe you can make a difference, then a career in nursing will give you the opportunity to make a difference to somebody's life every single day."

To find out more about a career in nursing check out the Nursing NI website.