Hard work: Nurses Jennifer Robinson and Isabell Jervis have achieved their academic ambitions. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Hard work: Nurses Jennifer Robinson and Isabell Jervis have achieved their academic ambitions. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Two nurses have become the first islanders to qualify as health visitors under a pioneering new partnership with an English university.

Jennifer Robinson and Isabell Jervis have spent the past two years balancing work and family commitments with late night study sessions to complete the course.

The duo also attended the University of Cumbria last summer as part of their studies.

They recently finished the post-graduate diploma in ‘Specialist Community Public Health Nursing – Health Visiting’, which allows them to conduct home visits in Bermuda.

Both previously worked as community health nurses, but took on the extra work to further their experience and help other Bermudians make the move up the career ladder.

Mrs Robinson told the Bermuda Sun that course had involved plenty of late nights to keep on top of the workload. The 44-year-old mother-of-two said: “This was something I always hoped to be able to do in order to be a better nurse.

“It proved to be a great opportunity and has given me the chance to work with babies again.”

While Mrs Jervis, a 49-year-old mother-of-five, added: “I felt this would be a great asset for my career as it is an internationally approved qualification.”

The two nurses conducted most of their studies in Bermuda with the help of local medical experts and online virtual learning seminars.

The course, which is approved by the UK
Nursing and Midwifery Council, also involved constant assessment in the form of essays and coursework.

In July 2012 Mrs Robinson and Mrs Jervis enrolled at the University of Cumbria to put the skills they had learned into practice and gain further valuable experience.

Mrs Robinson added: “There were nights I was up until 2am so I could get my essay in on time.

“I’d work weekends too to get what I needed done.

“It was pretty brutal, but it was invaluable too and I was fortunate to have the full backing of my family.”

Mrs Jervis added: “Going back to university again at my age was a pretty interesting experience.

“We were staying in halls of residence and surrounded by students a lot younger than us.

“But the experience we got going out into the community was very important, and I was very grateful that we had each other to get through the course.” Mrs Robinson and Mrs Jervis completed the health visitor course in September and are now two of five health visitors that work across the island.

The pair are already out and about visiting families and newborn babies in Bermuda. Mrs Jervis is responsible for the East End, while Mrs Robinson deals with the West End.  Jo Blake, from the University of Cumbria added: “Jennifer and Isabell have been exemplary students – very enthusiastic and dedicated to their learning and development of specialist health visiting practice.

“The model of combining a professionally-approved UK online university course with a programme of professional development for public health nursing in Bermuda has worked well, as Jennifer and Isabell have been able to explore and implement changes in practice, as they have progressed through their course, working in close collaboration with colleagues.”