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Elvira Viray

OU nursing graduate ElviraFrom a very young age Elvira Viray was interested in becoming a nurse, but with “little resources, financial difficulties, and lots of responsibilities, which included providing for my family” she had to put her ambition on hold.

She is now a qualified nurse through her OU studies, having achieved her Bachelor of Science (Honours) Adult Nursing degree, and is based at a care home.

She says: “What I enjoy about being a nurse is that I have an opportunity to help, provide care and am able to share the knowledge I’ve learned. It is very rewarding and very fulfilling that I have an ability to connect with the patients, families, work colleagues and management. 

“Becoming a nurse gives me an opportunity to play an important role in every patient’s life. It gives more meaning in my life. 

“It is not only a career or profession for me, it's a calling to help and support the elderly to give them the highest standard of care they need.”

It was when Elvira moved from the Philippines to start a new life with her family in Scotland that she “began to look for bigger opportunities and to be able to use my passion for caring for others. I was able to find a care home where I began as a kitchen porter. I realised I was a step closer to my goal of becoming a carer”.

The care home saw her potential and offered her a job as a carer, which gave Elvira the opportunity to achieve her Scottish Vocational Qualification, and later on she was promoted to a role as a senior carer.

“As someone who dreams a lot, I always wanted that much more, and being a senior carer helped me realise that this was one of the ways I could become a nurse,” she says.

Funded degree programme

With the support of her employer, Elvira went on to complete a part-time Open University (OU) access course to nursing and studied hard to achieve the maths qualification she needed to successfully apply for the Scottish Government funded nursing degree programme to begin her journey to becoming a nurse.

The high flexibility of the OU made it possible for me to study whilst working and looking after my family.”

Studying for her degree, Elvira found that the OU was ideal for mature students like herself because the “high flexibility of the OU made it possible for me to study whilst working and looking after my family”. 

She found that the course’s “well-structured modules” meant she could prepare in advance for submission dates and plan her time well ahead.

“By studying I developed my confidence, my communication skills, time management and new skills,” she says.

Based in the rural Highland area of Ballachulish, Elvira felt very supported during her studies from across the OU, particularly as someone who had not studied for over 30 years and whose second language is English.

“The tutors were great in supporting me during my studies when I felt overwhelmed with work,” she explains. “They helped me feel relaxed and gave me lots of reassurance through many of their resources such as online tutors, practical tutors, the online forum, a big community of students, from the technical department, computing department, and library resources aiding me to do my research.” 

She adds: “On top of that, online forums were exceptionally amazing in connecting with students, which made me feel comfortable in asking questions to aid my studies… a positive community where they made me feel not alone in my studies and that there are many students facing the same struggles as me.”

Faced with many challenges during the four years of her degree, including her son being diagnosed with cancer and needing to travel to visit him in hospital and attend appointments over two hours away, “the OU got in contact with me and were very supportive and understanding of the situation and gave me advice such as filling out extension forms”.

Elvira says: “Studying while working is the hardest part of it, not to mention family obligations. It is not easy but correct mind setting, organising and managing your time, and of course your will to achieve, is my biggest inspiration to reach the finish line.”

The OU is the best option in achieving your dreams by making it possible through life complications.”

Achieve your dreams

Since completing her degree, Elvira has fulfilled her dream of becoming a full-time staff nurse in a care home.

“I have never felt so proud of myself, so achieving of my own potential,” she says.

“And now, life has become more satisfying knowing that my dream has come true and now I can set an example and become a role model to everyone who wants to achieve more in their life.”

For anyone thinking of studying with the OU, she suggests: “The OU is the best option in achieving your dreams by making it possible through life complications.”