The nights he spent studying in the skills lab while housekeeping staff worked around him may have come to a close now but Walsall Manor Hospital Ward 29 colleague Michael Cope will never forget the blood, sweat and tears that helped him achieve his nursing dream!
Michael came to Walsall from the Philippines in 2011 as a qualified nurse working in Paediatrics and Intensive Care. He did some work in a residential home before joining Walsall Healthcare’s Bank as a CSW. But he never lost sight of his goal to become a Registered Nurse in the UK.
In order to be able to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council he needed to pass his IELTS Test (International English Language Testing System) which all overseas nurses have to complete.
“I found this so difficult because I remember having to write 1,000 words on the drainage system of the UK and I wasn’t successful a couple of times, just missing out by a few marks, which was so disappointing to me,” Michael, aged 35, explained. “It just seemed a subject so far away from caring for patients and working with teams at the hospital but I knew it had to be done.
“When the trust offered the Trainee Nursing Associates (TNA) opportunity as part of the first wave of the scheme I was so happy to become part of this. I said at the time that we felt we were able to influence changes and all of us who were part of that first wave feel really proud.”
After completing the two year course and becoming a qualified Registered Nursing Associate, Michael’s determination to become a fully-fledged Registered Nurse didn’t wane.
“It was hard work doing my day job, booking the skills lab in the MLCC to study and do extra Bank shifts to pay for my OSCE (Observed Structured Clinical Examination). I remember the housekeepers would literally clean around me while I worked as late as I could on my studies and I used to beg them for just a few more minutes in the peace and quiet!
“I eventually went to Northern Ireland and completed my OSCE and CBT (Computer Base Test) and can now say I am the first TNA to become a Registered Nurse, Band 5. It feels amazing to have come this far and hope others will feel inspired as well. I think it shows that anything is possible, in spite of the obstacles that can come our way, and I would like to think my experience will also encourage other colleagues from a BAME background to follow their goals.
“I love my job and while I have always felt part of a team on Ward 29 I now feel that I bring something more to the team because of the progress I’ve made. Where I used to be watching and taking it all in I am now in the middle of everything and that feels great. I also love motivating others and lifting their spirits where I can.”
And in his spare time Michael is known as Karaoke King – surely his signature song should be Don’t Stop Believin’.