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NHS Nursing Career Option

Is nursing an acceptable career option for South Asians?

We speak to Asian nurses who share their experience of being a nurse in the NHS, the challenges they faced regarding their career choice and how attitudes are changing with increased understanding of nursing within South Asian communities.

Farina Saheed is a mental health nurse from Leeds. She said “I first thought about a career in nursing when I did a counselling course. I realised how much I enjoyed giving back and helping others so I decided to leave my job in banking to pursue a nursing career.”

“My mum was really supportive of my decision but initially my dad wasn’t so happy about me making the change from banking to nursing.”

“In Asian families, parents want their children to be doctors not a nurse. Nurses are seen as being inferior but what people don’t understand is that nurses are the backbone of the NHS and we do a range intellectually challenging work including performance of some medical procedures, clinical research and education and treatment plans for patients. Attitudes are changing within the Asian community but there’s still more work to be done so people seen nursing as a good career option for their children.”

“I work with adults with mental health problems in hospital as well as in the community doing mental health reviews and helping patients develop coping skills.

I get to know my patients really well while supporting them on their road to recovery.”

“Coming from an Asian background helps me in my role especially when working with older Asian patients. I understand where they are coming from and can tailor the advice to meet their cultural needs.”

“I would definitely encourage young people or career changers like me to consider nursing as a career option. South Asians are still a minority and it would be great if we had better representation especially in mental health.”

“I really enjoy my role and wouldn’t change it for the world!”

Mariyha Iqbal qualified as is a nurse 6 months ago and works at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. She said “I initially worked as a healthcare assistant on the respiratory ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Whilst working as a healthcare assistant I developed a real interest and passion for nursing, so I decided to apply to university to study nursing.”

“I was fortunate enough to be offered a job where I did my second-year placement once I had completed my degree.”

Mariyha feels very lucky to have chosen this path as it has led her to a career that she finds extremely fulfilling and rewarding. At first her family weren’t supportive of her decision to be a nurse; “I had to battle with the stigma of being a nurse. My family were really against it, but now they have seen it through my eyes, realising that I am actually making a difference, saving lives so they are very supportive now.”

“I love the diversity of my role, some days I feel like a pharmacist or a counsellor, other days I feel like someone’s brother or sister. I can’t think of another job that offers the versatile opportunities you get in nursing - the diverse range of people people you meet and although the environment can be challenging, it brings out the best in you.”

“The beauty of nursing is that it keeps you mentally stimulated. You are consistently challenged and there is always something exciting to do, whether its carrying out procedures, caring for patients or just putting a smile on someone’s face who may be feeling vulnerable.”

“You really become a patient’s family and everything that they need in that moment. You get to form close relationships with both your patients and other staff members which gives nursing such a sense of community.”

Nurses have the opportunity to specialise in a broad range of roles across all areas of the NHS, including: learning disabilities, mental health, and primary care to name a few. If you’re interested in a career in nursing search nursing careers