Debra Ballington helping a young family

Debra Ballington - Public Health (Specialist Community Public Health Nursing)

Studied: Public Health (Specialist Community Public Health Nursing).

Deciding to go to university in her 50s, Debra Ballington realised later in life that she wanted to work in health – and has used postgraduate study to progress quickly into a role she feels passionate about.

Made the way to a better future

“I didn’t go to university until my son was 18 and had left home. Having worked as an administrator for 18 years, and also as a counsellor – I suddenly felt a strong desire to do something for myself, to get a degree and get myself professionally qualified."

“After doing my nursing qualification, I worked as a mental health nurse for three years – and then heard about the government drive to recruit more health visitors."

“I applied to work with a health visitor provider in Bath and they arranged for me to do the necessary postgraduate training at UWE Bristol. It was great as I’d only graduated three years before, so I was still in the studying mindset."

“For the first six months, we were in practice two and half days a week, and after that five days a week. So we got a lot of hands-on experience, and real-life scenarios, and it was a very true reflection of what would be expected of us in the workplace.”

“After I qualified, I began working full time as a health visitor, and it’s without a doubt the best job I’ve ever had, working with 0-5 year olds and their parents, and supporting their health and wellbeing."

“I get to do a real mix of things – from weighing babies, to supporting mums with sleep and feeding issues – and I feel very strongly about the work. I think it’s so important that good support is available to people when their children are very young.”

“Since doing the health visitor postgraduate qualification, I’ve been able to progress in my career much faster than I would have otherwise. So, although I waited until my 50s to move into health as a profession, within just a few years, I’ve carved out my niche, found a job I love, and increased my earning potential."

“I’ve got the learning bug now, too. In fact, I’m currently doing a course so that I can mentor other student nurses and health visitors. It’s great to share what I love about my job with others, and reminds me what a good position I’m in, just a few years after embarking on this journey.”

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