Esther Hughes took to the stage in His Majesty’s Theatre on Thursday 11 July to collect her MSc in Advancing Nursing Practice.
“This degree has always been something I wanted to undertake,” said Esther. “It's been a long hard slog – working full time while trying to study was pretty tough. It’s also been a difficult year with my father-in-law taking ill and passing away. My family have been an amazing support and I don’t think I would have got to this stage without them.”
Originally from Lockerbie, Esther graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Bachelor of Nursing degree and has worked for NHS Greater Glasgow, NHS Dumfries and Galloway and NHS Fife, before moving to Banchory around ten years ago.
Esther adds: “I became a qualified midwife in 1993 in Dumfries, but after qualifying, there were no full-time posts for midwives in the area. I moved away and ended up back in general nursing, then had my family but I always had a desire to become a Health Visitor. As an undergraduate, I spent time with an extremely dedicated Health Visitor who worked in a very deprived area of Glasgow and she was a real inspiration to me.”
After some time out with her family, Esther completed her return to practice and was a Community Nurse for six years prior to accepting RGU’s course offer, taking the Health Visiting route into the course.
Health visiting gives the opportunity for nurses and midwives to build on their experience, transfer previous learning and skills in addition to gaining the specialist knowledge required to promote and improve the health of children and families within a communities.
“Having practised as a midwife, it gave me valuable experience to take into my new role,” added Esther.
Although a distance learner with RGU, Esther was still able to benefit from placements and took the initiative to seek out funding for her dissertation. She explored funding opportunities through The Queen’s Nursing Institute and writing to the Archie Foundation at the local Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
Esther said: “I thoroughly enjoyed both of my placements at Aboyne Health Centre. I learned so much there from the wealth of experience of my Community Practice Teacher, Karen Grant and fellow colleague Anne Silcock.
“Being a distance learner requires a great degree of discipline to keep going and stay focussed and on track for each module. This was especially difficult in the last six months with my dissertation and starting a new job, while trying to meet deadlines for each stage. I received part-funding for my dissertation through The Archie Foundation and the King Edward V11 Memorial Fund, which I was very grateful for."
Esther plans to consolidate all her learning and currently works as a Health Visitor four days a week in Westhill.
“Learning is by no means over with the completion of my Master’s degree,” said Esther. “It’s often said that ‘every day in nursing is a learning day’ and this is certainly true in Health Visiting.”