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Determined nurse travelled 200 miles a day for studies


When Mairi Gough graduated from Robert Gordon University last week it marked the end of a tiring three years of study, travel and clinical placements. 

Mairi GoughMairi, 50, from Tradespark Road, Nairn, graduated from the Adult Nursing Bachelors degree programme on Friday 7 December.

Having worked for many years in care and support work, she was keen to pursue a career in nursing. She had initially begun studying nursing at 18 years old but decided at the time it wasn’t for her.

She said: “Over time I regretted giving up so soon and had it in the back of my mind to return to nursing one day. I decided to start the degree when my children had grown up and we were in a better place financially for me to go from a good salary to a basic bursary.”

By 2009 she had fully raised her family and so applied to study in the Highlands. However she was too late in submitting her application and, rather than wait another year, was persuaded that Aberdeen would be close enough.

During the lecture-based blocks of the degree, Mairi and her fellow students were based at the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care in Aberdeen. To attend her studies, Mairi drove nearly 100 miles each way to attend lectures each day. This proved exhausting at times, but her determination propelled her through.

She said: “The 198 mile round trip was often for a one hour lecture and sometime I had to do that five days in a week. It was exhausting physically and draining financially. The option of staying in Aberdeen was too expensive to consider. However, my personal tutor was incredibly helpful as she offered information on help with funding and met with me to discuss options.”

The University was also able to take Mairi’s location into consideration when organising her clinical placements, all of which were based in Moray – including Elgin, Aberlour and Forres.

Despite the time and expense, Mairi took great enjoyment in her studies.

She said: “Seeing the university for the first time I was impressed by how modern it was, how approachable the lecturers were and the excellent facilities available to students.

“The clinical skills area with the mock ward, the highly skilled lecturers, Practice Education Facilitators and Leads made the learning experience excellent. Clinical skills assessments take place throughout each of the three years and, though serious marked assessments, they’re enjoyable and give the student a good start in the clinical skills they are expected to carry out in the real wards.”

Mairi has already found employment with a nursing agency and is enjoying the challenges presented by practicing as a registered nurse.

Looking back at her time at RGU, Mairi said: “It was a long, hard three years in many ways but the learning experience was second to none and I feel fit to practice as a staff nurse now. I completed my studies just after turning 50 so it was a double celebration!”

Mairi was joined at her graduation ceremony by husband Allan, son James and daughter Samantha.

Issued by:
Sarah Grieve
Communications Office

Robert Gordon University
Tel: 01224 262389
Mob: 07970 622229
Email: newsdesk@rgu.ac.uk