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Former Safety Engineer proves it’s never too late to change career


A Robert Gordon University (RGU) student has spoken about her experience of changing career from engineering to becoming a student nurse.

Laura BruceLaura Bruce worked as a Technical Safety Engineer in the oil and gas sector for four years, having studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Aberdeen and then completing a Masters in Safety and Reliability.

The 28-year-old, who is from Edinburgh but moved to Aberdeen at the age of 5, was following a family tradition, as most members of her family work as engineers.

She was unfortunately made redundant last year and has said it made her look back at careers she’d considered when she was younger.

Laura said: “I remember when I was doing my UCAS form for the first time, around 10 years ago, and ideas like being a nurse or a paramedic were going through my head.

“A lot of my friends and people I have worked with have told me that I am a caring and compassionate person, so I thought that applying for a nursing course would be a good fit.”

Laura began working as a carer at Lethen Park in Portlethen while she weighed up her potential university options.

She said: “I looked at different courses at a few different universities, but RGU was the one that really stood out to me. It was the only one that allowed me to be more specialised before I even left university.

“While most courses I looked at would have me complete a basic 3-year programme, they’d potentially leave me in a position where I might not be able to move into the areas I want to. Whereas here, not only can I experience everything, but I can have an elective that’s close to what I think I would like to do.”

Laura is now part-way through her first year of a Bachelors in Adult Nursing and hopes that she will be able to move into Acute Care, working in an ICU or Accident and Emergency environment.

When asked about how she finds being a mature student on Year One of an undergraduate programme, she said: “It’s been really interesting, as this university is a unified learning place and we’re all here for the same reason.

“We’ve already got a Facebook group, where we can all work together. There are those of us who are that little bit more experienced and can help the younger students, while they can be a breath of fresh air and give us a different perspective on things. So, we all have the chance to learn from each other.”

Despite only being in her first year, Laura has already noticed some overlap between what she is learning now and her previous experience as an engineer.

She said: “Obviously with engineering, you do have to work on your own, as well as part of a team, which means I’m prepared for studying on my own or group presentations and tutorials.

“But also, while working as an engineer, you learn the importance of reporting if you see someone doing something wrong or see a problem with a document. Having that background means that, even as a first year student, I have the confidence to speak up in what are now life or death situations.”

Laura has recently become engaged to her partner and, despite having a few more years of studying ahead of her, is looking forward to her future.

She said: “I’m glad I made the choice to change my career, because I know I’ll be much happier at the end of the day. It might be stressful at times, but I really want to get going.

“I’d say that if anyone has any experience volunteering or doing first aid, or if people tell you that you’re caring and compassionate, then I would consider making the change yourself. It might be a hard slog at times, but if you enjoy it, it’s absolutely worth it.”

Professor Ian Murray, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery said: “Laura is the perfect example of how the current downturn in the oil and gas sector has affected some employees but by redirecting her focus she has been able to pick up on a new career option.

“Nursing and Midwifery is an excellent career choice for those looking for fulfilment and challenge. Men and women entering the profession later in their lives can bring a real wealth of life experience which is invaluable when it comes to providing person centred patient care.”

Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer | Health and Sport
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