Graduate profile

Charlotte Walder

"I benefitted from caring for a specific patient group and gained some in-depth knowledge there and I also learned a little Norwegian."

Nursing Studies (Registered Nurse Adult Nursing)
Graduation year
Study abroad location
Stavanger Hospital, Norway

What subject did you study at the University of Surrey and what year did you graduate?

I studied Adult Nursing BSc (Hons), graduating in 2016 

What were the best things about your course?

The variety of placement opportunities including the Erasmus scheme.  I had some wonderful mentors. 

Why did you decide to take an Erasmus study/work abroad exchange?

To experience and learn about nursing in a healthcare system alternate to that of the UK.

Where did you go and what did you do on the Erasmus scheme? 

I went to Stavanger, Norway, working as a student nurse on a ward caring for patients requiring treatment and care related to drug and alcohol misuse. I was occupied simultaneously completing 4 assignments during the first 4 weeks, but once they were submitted, I spent any remaining days off from shift hiking in Norway.

How did your Erasmus experience help you develop personally or professionally during your time as a Surrey student, and has this influenced your choice of career?

Stavanger Hospital provided a very effective learning environment for students, which I believe greatly enhanced my training. I learned about the Norwegian healthcare system and their culture. 
I benefitted from caring for a specific patient group and gained some in-depth knowledge there. I also learned a little Norwegian.

I made friends who I remain in contact with now. Last year my host and his partner visited me in London. This Summer I am meeting Norwegian colleagues to complete the Trolltunga hike I failed to squeeze in during my time on Erasmus.   

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?

I am a newly qualified Nurse, currently on preceptorship and working full-time at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. I care for a broad range of surgical, medical, oncology and palliative patients. The ward is under-resourced and the shifts are always exhausting, but the nature of nursing thankfully means that I always take some good thoughts away at the end of the shift or find it rewarding in some way. I find that poorly patients are often inspiring or show incredible spirit in the face of adversity. It is true that no two days are the same.

On my days away from the Hospital I work as an RAMC Defence Medic in the Army Reserves, usually 2-4 days per week and sometimes for a fortnight at a time in varying UK and overseas locations, this month I was deployed to California. 

How can students hoping to work in your profession make the most of their time at Surrey?

I would recommend applying for the Erasmus programme to anyone. Back in the UK, I also sought some additional shadowing, outside of my mandatory hours or portfolio requirements, to further my knowledge of areas I was particularly interested in- such as drug and alcohol liaison, additional time in paediatrics and time spent at a home for young people with profound learning disabilities.  I generally found that when I asked to shadow an HCP they were usually happy to help if they could. Sometimes the only time they had available was for a discussion, but that was still valuable.  I tend to ask the nurses I meet about their own career paths/journeys. 

What advice would you give to current students thinking about a study/work abroad placement? Do you have any top tips to offer?

I found that using an AirBnb for the duration worked perfectly for me. The host I booked with was very pleasant and helpful. It was convenient for them to have the same guest for several weeks, rather than new guests constantly arriving, so they were receptive to negotiating a low rate with me. It worked out at something like £15 a day for what was very comfortable lodging in central Norway, walking distance from the Hospital. Making a private booking this way, meant I had guaranteed peace and quiet to complete assignments and rest between shifts. I was reluctant to book through the University's accommodation, because they were insisting I pay up-front for four months as opposed to just the 8 weeks I required - during summer when the accommodation was otherwise unoccupied.


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