Graduation success on the double for new hospital staff nurses

Two new hospital staff nurses are taking up their duties after years of dedicated studying paid off.

Elaina Corton and Penny Taylor joined the ENT and Eye Outpatients’ Department of Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as healthcare assistants. But after four years of studying with the Open University, they have just passed their final exams to become fully-fledged staff nurses.

Senior Sister and Departmental Manager, Janet Noonan, arranged a surprise presentation for the studious pair, where they were given bouquets of flowers and congratulated by their colleagues.

Janet said: “It’s hard enough studying but to be working at the same time makes it even tougher. This shows just how dedicated Penny and Elaina have been and this success is thoroughly deserved. I am really proud of them.

“Their progress has been fantastic and they are both real assets to the Ophthalmology and ENT teams. We are all pleased they are continuing to work in this department.”

Elaina, who joined the Trust in September 2011, said: “Penny and I have been able to study together and it’s been great having one another for support.

“I’ve got a daughter, who’s now four, so it’s been challenging being a new mum as well as working full-time and studying for a degree. It’s been hard work and you have to be very disciplined so we’ve had a strict schedule but it’s meant that Penny and I have kept each other on track.”

And studying for the degree wasn’t the only challenge Elaina faced. During her second year, she got married and moved house within the space of three months! She also had a lot to live up to in that her mum, June Dixon, now retired, was a nursing sister.

Graduation present

Elaina added: “She’s really proud of my achievements and has passed on her fob watch and scissors. She had the scissors engraved for me as a graduation present.”

Penny joined the Trust in January 2013. She said: “It feels as though I haven’t had a holiday for four years because I’ve taken work with me wherever I’ve been. Prior to starting the degree it had been a long time since I had studied for anything but once I got into the mind-set everything was fine. Elaina and I just kept telling each other let’s get on with it!”

As well as working and studying for the degree, Penny has also managed to plan her own wedding next year.

Both Elaina and Penny agree that their success – both were awarded a 2:1 Upper Class Honours degree – was due in part to the encouragement they received from their ENT and Eye Outpatients’ Department colleagues, especially the Ophthalmology consultants.

Elaina said: “The consultants have been fantastic, so supportive and have cheered us on every step of the way. I never thought when I started working as a healthcare assistant that I’d be a staff nurse one day.”

Penny added: “The consultants really believed in us and encouraged us to progress and believe in ourselves. There’s a lot of great teamwork in this department and that’s why we both want to continue to stay within it. It gives us both a great opportunity to make a real difference.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of us both having support from other students too, who kept us going when it got tough. Without someone there to lean on it would have been even harder.”