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Nursing graduate is an exceptional role model

David Ferran is an exceptional role model for nursing students. Working in healthcare from the age of 18, he’s since qualified with a first-class honours degree in Nursing, and has won multiple awards. He’s now studying at Masters level and is on the board of the Royal College of Nursing for Northern Ireland. We caught up with David to see how life has been since he graduated from The Open University.

David initially trained as a cardiographer. He realised he wanted to become a registered nurse to increase his contact with, and become an advocate for, patients.

“Having always worked in a healthcare setting I was surrounded by many inspirational nurses. I could see the positive influence nurses could have upon a patient’s experience, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances.”

Being organised helped my work/life balance

He applied to The Open University after seeing posters around the hospital. Although David initially was concerned that he would not be able to adapt to distance learning whilst working full time, he quickly learned that he needed to be organised, and to prioritise what was important.

“Personally I have gained a lot of confidence in myself; I’d never studied at degree level before and was unsure if I would have the ability to complete such a course. I was never great at studying at school but I’ve now proved that if you are studying something that you are very interested in you can do well if you apply yourself.”

“The most challenging thing was trying to keep a work/life balance, although good organisation means you can have a healthy balance of both. I had concerns that I would not be disciplined enough to complete a distance learning degree and have surprised myself that I actually prefer this method of learning. The tutors at the OU were always only a phone call away and I felt supported throughout my training.”

“I use my knowledge on a daily basis, and I’ve been able to apply what I have learned through my OU study into practice. I’ve become a source of information to both patients and family members and my communication skills have improved greatly.”

Award-winning student

David won the Royal College of Nursing (NI) Student Nurse of the Year Award 2016. The awards highlight excellence within nursing in Northern Ireland and celebrate the contribution that nurses and healthcare assistants make to health and well-being.

“I was very shocked to be nominated and even more shocked to win. I attribute my success to the support I have received throughout my studies and I am happy that my award raises awareness of The Open University route of study.”

Donna Gallagher, student nurse David Ferran and John D’Arcy.

Pictured L-R: Donna Gallagher, Staff Tutor for Nursing; David Ferran; and John D’Arcy, Director of The Open University in Ireland

He went on to win the ‘Northern Ireland Degree Category’ award at the 2017 British Education Awards in London. The event honoured students for their exemplary academic and extracurricular achievement. The Open University nominated David for this award because of his outstanding academic success over the previous year.

John D’Arcy, Director of The Open University in Ireland, said

“We couldn’t be more proud of David. He is an exceptional role model.”

Confidence to continue his studies

Since qualifying, David has continued to learn, and is now studying for a specialist practice Masters-level qualification in dermatology nursing. As if that didn’t keep him busy enough, he’s also an RCN NI board member, Chair of the regional Men in Nursing network and Co-Chair for the regional diversity in nursing campaign.

“My Open University degree fully prepared me for nursing. It also gave me the academic confidence to continue my studies as I continue to develop in my role as a registered nurse.”

Looking to the future

So what’s next for David? He says:

“I’m looking forward to what the future holds but, at the minute, I find caring and supporting patients on the front line as a registered nurse most rewarding and enjoyable.”

“To anyone thinking about taking the OU route into nursing, I’d say “go for it!”
I’m in no doubt that my experience as a nursing assistant helped me throughout my studies and this experience, combined with support from OU tutors, helped me to achieve and exceed my goals.”

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About Author

Liz works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She has over 15 years' marketing experience working across a range of sectors, from diamonds to shampoo. She has a BSc (Hons) in Management from UMIST. In her spare time, Liz is usually found on roller skates or off travelling, having adventures.

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