Graeme Gentles
Access to Science
I left school just before I was 16 with no qualifications and went on to a further education college in Perth to complete an apprenticeship in joinery. My granny was a nurse auxiliary and I remember on a Sunday when she was at Perth Royal Infirmary going to meet her after work and she would tell me how busy she had been.

When I was 35 I’d worked for a company for a while and when the owner retired I worked for other companies but didn’t feel the same about joinery. I always had a niggle, an urge, to be a nurse so I decided to leave work and go back to college to do my standard grades. I then got on to the SWAP East Access to Science programme at Perth College that gave me the entry qualifications I needed to get into nursing and I took up a place at Abertay University in Dundee.

I’ve always been interested in mental health nursing – especially the care of people with dementia. It’s very rewarding getting a smile from somebody with dementia – it gives you such a sense of achievement.

My first year at university was tricky but not as hard as I thought it would be. It was the first time in my life that I had ever done proper essays and the first time I got an A-plus I couldn’t believe it; I thought as a student I’d just scrape through. I think the biggest reward so far is probably getting really good feedback from senior charge nurses and managers on my placements – people who have been nursing for maybe 20 years who tell me I am going to make a fantastic nurse. I am just amazed.

I’m not the oldest on the mental health nursing course – I’m 40 and about seven are roughly the same age or older. I think as an older person I bring life skills with me and I think that has made a difference on my placements.

2021 Update - after completing his degree, Mental Health Nursing BSc (Hons), Graeme is continuing with his studies part-time while working.

"I started my Masters back in September last year at University of Stirling, it’s called MSc Dementia Studies. This will take me 3 years to do as I am doing this part-time. I am currently working as a staff nurse in an Older Adults Hospital in a  Dementia Admission ward. As a student I was on this ward twice and the first time made my mind up that I wanted to work here!"
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