“I cry every morning because I’m so happy that I’ve finally realised my dream of becoming a nurse.”
Mother-of-three Areema Nasreen has wanted to be a nurse since she was a teenager, after caring for her nan who suffered a stroke.
“I just wanted to be able to look after people, particularly those who are elderly and vulnerable,” she explained.
But her life was mapped out for her as her as there was an expectation within her Muslim Pakistani family that she would have an arranged marriage and settle into that role.
“I was taken to Pakistan to be married at 17 and there were family members who told me that my focus shouldn’t be on study or a career but on making my marriage a supportive one. It felt at that point that nursing was so far away from me.
“I got a job in housekeeping at Walsall Manor Hospital and at that interview found staff to be incredibly supportive of my dream. They didn’t dismiss it in any way although I was applying to do a job that wasn’t in my chosen career.”
That was back in 2003 and Areema concentrated on working hard – all the time talking to as many staff as possible about her desire to take up nursing.
“The trust has been nothing but supportive,” she said. “I spoke to so many staff who really encouraged me to follow my dream until I gave up housekeeping and became a Healthcare Assistant here while raising my three children with my husband. Then four years ago I finally took the plunge, with the full support of my husband, and started studying to become a nurse.”
Areema, aged 35, qualified in January this year and is now a proud Staff Nurse on Walsall Manor Hospital’s Acute Medical Unit.
“I am so blessed to have this role and absolutely love it. I want to make a difference and remember occasions such as the time I stayed with a patient who had no family and was End of Life. I held his hand through his final moments and that was a privilege for me. I’m so glad he had someone there.
“I would like to think that I could inspire others; particularly within Muslim communities. My own family members have since changed their views as a result of seeing me become the first person in my family to go to university. They are encouraging my younger relatives to follow their dreams and that is amazing.
“My husband was a stranger when I met him and I didn’t want to get married but actually we’ve been really good for each other and he is also doing well in his career as a businessman. I would urge anyone reading this not to give up.”