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Emma Swinney

Clearing Case Study

Working in healthcare was Emma’s dream, made possible through Clearing and Confirmation at Northumbria University.

20-year-old Emma, from Jarrow in South Tyneside, had previously studied another course at another university, but after working part-time as an A&E receptionist for the NHS, she knew that she wanted to train for a different career.  Her experience in A&E, observing nurses interact with patients inspired her to apply to Northumbria to study Adult Nursing.

Being the first person in her family to go to university, Emma said: “My parents didn’t get degrees but I grew up watching my Mam working in the NHS, so it felt like a natural pathway for me. I had initially chosen to study Pharmacy at a different university, but it wasn’t the right fit. I wanted to be patient-facing, and ever since starting my degree at Northumbria, I have been 100% confident in my decision.”

Emma is currently doing her second placement as a student Adult Nurse, having completed her first on a Cardiology ward at the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust. She explained: “What is brilliant about Northumbria University is that you aren’t thrown into placements when you start. You get so much support and guidance throughout, but you also spend a few months getting to understand the theory and honing your skills on a mock ward. This makes a huge difference when stepping into a hospital on your first day as a practicing nurse.

“The teaching on my course is super interactive. From learning how to give a bed bath using only a small bedside table to mimic space limitations on a ward, to understanding how to have difficult conversations, I found that I was meeting patients feeling prepared and confident. And learning all these clinical skills on a mock ward really makes you feel like you’re in a hospital. Even silly things like the constant beeping from machines. It is a totally immersive environment.”

Excited for her future as a nurse, Emma continued: “One of my favourite days at university has got to be waiting for the next set of placements to come out. I’m so eager to learn and experience all aspects of adult nursing and we all get a bit hyped to hear where we’re going to be working next.

“On my previous course at another university, I was completely uninterested in my lectures but this fresh start has changed my whole perspective on study. I love learning and coming to university. I can’t wait to catch up with my friends over a Starbucks on campus and become the best nurse I can be.”

Talking about the support she has from the University, Emma added: “As part of my course I also have the opportunity to go to Ghana to practice nursing. And because I am from a low-income area and am the first person in my family to go to university, Northumbria would help fund this.

“The support from Northumbria has been fantastic. I have a medical condition which means I sometimes struggle with fatigue and brain fog, and my personal tutor has been so helpful in coordinating the necessary adjustments. They have also made sure that my placements are aware, so they can be flexible with my working arrangements whenever I have a flare-up.”

Emma applied to Northumbria University through Clearing and used the Confirmation hotline to reassure her about her course acceptance. She advises other students to follow their dreams, saying: “Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to change your mind. I did and it’s the best decision I have ever made.” 

Northumbria University has a limited number of places available for high quality students through Clearing this Summer. For more information, visit Northumbria University’s Clearing Hub or call the Clearing Hotline on 0800 085 1085.


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