A grateful healthcare worker, who was awarded a scholarship set up in tribute to late Walsall Staff Nurse Areema Nasreen, says her friend’s memory continues to spur her on through her studies.
Sheila Kerai, 49, is now a Nursing Associate and is eligible to join year two of the BSc Nursing degree programme in March 2025 once she completes 12 months in her new role.
The scholarship was established as a fitting tribute to mother-of three Areema, who died after contracting COVID-19 in April 2020.
It was seen as a way of helping someone who needed extra support to achieve their healthcare goals and Walsall Healthcare’s Professional Development Unit, HR and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s Well Wishers charity worked together to establish it.
Sheila was part of the 28-strong group who all passed the course after starting in September 2021, dividing her time between the University of Wolverhampton and placements in various clinical settings.
“I’m relieved to have finished and it’s been an amazing journey,” said Sheila. “Because the scholarship was in memory of Areema, I’ve been even more determined to pass and make her proud.”
And she has achieved her aim of passing the course before a milestone birthday, which she will be celebrating on 10 March, 2024.
“I’ve done it before my 50th birthday, which is what I wanted, even though I will be 52 when I qualify as a Registered Nurse (RN).
“The next step for me is to become qualified but the next 12 months gives me chance to get into the role because every day is still a learning experience.
“Now I’m performing the role on a daily basis means I can broaden my knowledge.”
Sheila is delighted to be returning to the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) at Walsall Manor Hospital for the next year.
“I feel like I’m going ‘home’ because AMU is where I will have worked for 13 years next March and that’s where Areema worked. I’m an ‘AMU girl’!” said Sheila.
“I’m nervous but I’m also confident because the support I’ve received has been phenomenal – I’ve received hundreds of messages on Facebook as lots of friends and family have followed my journey.
“We’re in a new build which is exciting and I can’t wait to get started. Laura Evans, Preceptorship Lead, will be my support for the next year to make sure I’m doing everything correctly but will be there if I’m struggling with anything.
“The family have been amazing too. My two grandchildren say ‘Nanny’s a proper Nurse now!”
Along with the support of AMU, Sheila has also been helped by fellow students from Walsall Healthcare, Ross Pearce from Ward 29 and Matthew Fraser rom Community.
“We formed a close group and pushed each other all the way through,” added Sheila.
Georgie Westley, Fundraising Manager for Well Wishers, said: “We’re delighted to see Sheila become a Nursing Associate and look forward to her becoming a Registered Nurse. We’re all very proud of what she’s done – and what a fitting legacy to Areema.”