The Open University (OU) has made it possible for Abdullah Jamil to balance work and family while working towards his dream of following his father into the healthcare sector.
A “desire to mirror my Dad’s career” as a herbal medical practitioner first inspired the nursing student to dedicate himself to working in the same area, while his sister is now in her 5th year of studying medicine.
Working as a clinical support worker since 2016, Abdullah, who lives in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, was encouraged by one of his managers to apply for the Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Adult Nursing degree.
Needing to still financially support his young family during his studies, he welcomes that studying with the OU means “being able to study and earn an income at the same time, in a job role that has a future”.
“The flexibility has been incredibly important,” he adds. “Because I can study from home I am not required at a university study hall or lecture room. All classes are hosted online.
“There is no physical building, which is the best part of the Open University study process for me, and why I ultimately chose to study with them over another university.”
Studying this way means that a student never feels alone in their work and learning. We are always in proximity to the nurses, which means we can ask questions about our studies and assignments.”
Discussing his first year as a nursing student, Abdullah has found that placements so far have been the “best part of studying. I am learning so much from being in the healthcare setting, having a team and managers that coach and inspire me.”
“Studying this way means that a student never feels alone in their work and learning.
“We are always in proximity to the nurses, which means we can ask questions about our studies and assignments. There is a lot of support.”
He also welcomes the support he has from his practice tutor and other OU staff during his studies, who “message straight back”, while he has found that the teaching and learning materials are “world-class”.
Abdullah adds: “The most challenging element of study is time management and timekeeping.
“There are lessons and assignments whilst student nurses are on a placement and working full-time, so the ability to juggle workloads with home life is essential. It is also challenging not having much time off.”
However, he highlights that the positive feedback he has received from senior management and from patients and their families since he began studying has helped to motivate him, particularly over the COVID-19 pandemic period.
This period is temporary; a nursing career lasts a lifetime… The NHS will always need more nurses, something that is more evident than ever now following the coronavirus pandemic.”
Although balancing study, work and family commitments can be a struggle, the nursing student maintains: “It is worthwhile and fulfilling.
“This period is temporary; a nursing career lasts a lifetime… The NHS will always need more nurses, something that is more evident than ever now following the coronavirus pandemic.”
During the pandemic, Abdullah’s ward became a COVID-19 admissions unit and he experienced first-hand the amazing care that nurses provide when he himself became seriously ill with the virus.
“This motivated me to study more, to learn more things about COVID. If I have more knowledge about COVID then I can provide the best care,” he adds.
To anyone who is thinking of studying with the OU, he says: “I would advise them to go for it… If they are young, they will have fun – it is busy and social.
“If they have a family then it is a stable means of income, it is respected and it is flexible. It is suited to different people from all different backgrounds and life stages.”
He hopes that his journey to becoming a nurse will encourage more males to enter nursing, as it’s been his experience that it is still often viewed as mainly a “female job”, and inspire more males and females of Muslim faith to enter the profession.
Abdullah highlights that studying with the OU is more than just gaining a degree, he feels it is “a world passport” to being a nurse anywhere.