Health and Social Care Professionals visit our Enniskillen Students

Every year, South West College (SWC) is very proud to see our students pursue careers in various roles, such as Nursing, Paramedic Science, Occupational Therapy, and extensive roles in the Social Care Sector. With such a vast range of career paths available within Health and Social Care, it can be challenging to decide which one to choose as the end of college approaches.

During this stage of education, seeking guidance from professionals already working in the field can be invaluable. SWC recently organised an event called "Who Cares? We do!" to provide an opportunity for Access and Health and Social Care students to meet previous graduates who shared their experiences and discussed the opportunities available to them as they progress in their studies.

Chloe Crawford, a Practice Sister at a local GP surgery in Enniskillen, Stephanie Lee, the Deputy Project Manager at Positive Futures, and Josie Doran, a Social Work Manager at WHSCT, shared their insights on various topics. They covered how to make the most of your time at college and your placements, ways to progress within your workplace, and tips for balancing family life with your studies.

Josie Doran, who returned to college at the age of 38, studied for a Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care alongside her daughter, Lisa. She then went on to complete a BSc in Social Work and graduated with First Class Honours. Josie shared her experience of returning to college, saying:

“I have no regrets about going back to study for a Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care at the age of 38. For those who are considering returning as a mature learner, my advice is to just go for it! Within the Health and Social Care profession, working patterns are flexible.

As a mature learner, you may be holding down a job and have family commitments, but there are night shifts, part-time hours, and weekend shifts that can help you balance your responsibilities. When you qualify, there will be working patterns that you can make work for your life. Life can't stop for your studies, but managing everything as a mature learner is definitely possible.”

Stephanie Lee, Deputy Service Manager of Positive Futures Lakeland, pursued her HND in Health and Social Care after finishing school. During the Q&A session with the student group, Stephanie shared some valuable advice on how to manage an emotional day at work. Additionally, Stephanie advised those who might not be interested in pursuing a degree that progression through job ranks doesn't always require one.

I always knew that I wanted to work in a Caring profession. After A-Levels I studied the HND in Health and Social Care. You don’t necessarily need a Degree to progress and grow within Health and Social Care, and I knew that following my HND that I was ready for the workplace. My work is immensely rewarding, finding solutions for people and supporting service-users day-to-day.

Past student Chloe Crawford was one of the first cohort of students to study the Foundation Degree in Science in Health and Social Care at South West College. Chloe emphasised to the student group that pathways to your ideal career don’t always run smoothly, but that can often be to your advantage.

“When I applied for Nursing after my A-Levels, initially I didn’t get in, which is one of those moments where you feel heartbroken, but I found the Foundation Degree in Science in Health and Social Care at South West College. At the end of this course, I was offered places in Nursing at QUB, Ulster and John Moores. I found that when it came to the academic side of Nursing, I was so well prepared with things such as academic writing and referencing because of the foundations set on my course at South West College.”

Higher Education tutor in Health and Social Care, Michelle McCauley, who organised the event, highlighted the importance of learners being able to meet those who are already on the career path that they are considering.

"It demonstrates to all in attendance that success is possible and encourages learners to strive for and achieve their personal and professional goals and not be afraid to reach out and seek advice on career paths and job opportunities. Our past learners enhance the learning experience by bringing real-world examples into the classroom and I can see how this helps to make the learning more relevant, engaging and exciting. Finally, in sharing their personal experiences, challenges they faced, and how they overcame them provides current learners with practical insights and strategies that they can apply to ensure their continued success and in hearing first-hand about their successes and accomplishments really inspires and motivates current learners".

Enrolling in a Health and Social Care course can offer a wide range of opportunities to the learner. From Allied Health professions, such as Speech and Language or Physiotherapy, to Nursing, Care Assistants, and even Teaching, South West College Health and Social Care students are employed all over the world in fulfilling careers. Students can join the course after their GCSEs and continue until they reach the degree level right in their own locality. As Josie exemplifies, it is a field where experience is valued and where mature learners can feel welcome.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website. Applications are open now, and our careers service welcome your enquiries.