A NURSE at a Clydebank hospital has told of his journey from catering to caring for critically ill patients.

Chris O’Meara started working as a catering team leader at the Golden Jubilee University Hospital in Dalmuir a number of years ago.

However, the 38-year-old from Dumbarton explained he always had dreams of becoming a nurse.

In his role on the catering team, Chris had lots of face-to-face interactions with patients and it wasn’t long before his outgoing nature was noticed by a ward manager who encouraged him to apply to become a healthcare support worker.

From there he was supported through a senior nursing assistant role before undertaking a nursing night course for six months.

Chris said: “After I had completed the first steps to nursing course, my manager continued to encourage me and pointed me towards the SVQ Level 3 course.

“With help from the clinical educators, I worked through that for about 18 months before moving on to the Open University (OU) course in 2019.”

Chris worked as a healthcare support worker during this time and was able to schedule his shifts around his studies.

The 38-year-old did have some initial concerns about being able to complete the course due to having dyslexia however he went on to achieve his dream of becoming a registered nurse this year.

Not only that but Chris was also a finalist in the Care and Compassion category in this year’s Golden Jubilee ‘Our People Awards’ which recognises staff or teams who have a positive, compassionate attitude to patients, carers, and customers in everything they do.

Chris, who now works in the High Dependency Unit (HDU), added: “Nursing was always something I wanted to do, but I was dyslexic and every time I looked into it there was always something I felt I couldn’t do because you needed qualifications to get into the courses.

“The OU course is really good for people with dyslexia as all the lectures are recorded so you’re not worried about writing notes or missing what’s being said. You can go back to things as many times as you need to.

“I really enjoy working in HDU, it’s a great team and they have been amazing to me. I also need to thank the clinical educators, particularly Margaret Hart and Lynn Wilson, who took a lot of time to explain things to me, the protocols, policies, and more specific details about service needs that weren’t part of the OU course.

“It was a very helpful balance and really did make a big difference to me.”

Staff at all Scottish NHS boards are able to take part in the OU future nurse programme which is a funded course providing those already working in healthcare support worker roles with routes to becoming registered nurses.

The Golden Jubilee has been a Scottish Qualifications Authority-approved centre since 2017 and supports a range of staff on flexible career pathways in the NHS.

Lynn Wilson, clinical educator for vocational learning, said: “There are many paths into nursing, and Chris, like others who have come through this pathway, have shown fantastic determination and resilience to achieve their goals.

“We can support Healthcare Support Workers to gain a nationally recognised qualification that is Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) rated. This is transferrable and assessors are in-house so there is no need for travel elsewhere to do it.

“We have several staff members who have used this programme to develop their careers, from nurses to operating department practitioners (ODPs).

“Chris is just one inspirational example of staff who have enhanced their careers through opportunities and support here at NHS Golden Jubilee.”