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Roy BrittenFrom left: Dr Virginia Jones, MNSc programme leader; Roy Britten, MNSc student; John Dean, Professional Practice Fellow, UOC Simulation Centre

Increasing frustration over his desk-bound office job and a lack of people contact inspired Roy Britten to retrain as a nurse.

The former software engineer is undertaking the University of Otago, Christchurch’s two-year intensive Master of Nursing Science (MNSc). The MNSc is open to graduates of any degree. At the end of their course of study, successful students are awarded a Master’s degree, and are eligible to apply for nursing registration with the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

The MNSc is taught through the University’s Christchurch-based Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies.

“I was getting really tired of sitting at a desk all day, getting larger, and having little interaction with people outside the office environment. I also didn’t feel like I was making a difference or helping people,” Roy says.

He decided a career in nursing would give him job satisfaction, a chance to make a difference to people’s lives, variety, and the ability to work or volunteer overseas.

Roy whole-heartedly believes gaining the University of Otago qualification will transform his life.

“I can see a whole lot of doors opening for me at the end of this course. The fact I will get nursing registration plus a Master’s degree is, let’s face it, a real bonus. If nurses want to progress in their career a Master’s degree is going to be a must.”

Roy says he’s enjoyed every minute of the course so far. One stand-out aspect is the exceptionally high level of support offered, including preceptors, or supervisors, hired by the University to assist student during their clinical placements.

“I visited the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies initially for information and was impressed by how organised they were. They already had a schedule for the following year, which is great as I have children and need to plan ahead for things like the school holidays. Since starting the course, everything they promised has happened.”

Becoming qualified after two, rather than three years (the standard study time for a Bachelor’s degree in nursing) means he is without an income for a shorter period of time. “That’s a big deal when you’ve got a family," he says.

Students have opportunities for placements in every aspect of health care. For his primary health care placement Roy requested the Department of Corrections. Roy says the MNSc lecturers have been really flexible – including assisting him to undertake his clinical placement with Corrections.

“I wanted to see what it would be like working in this area and they made it happen. The experience was really challenging but fascinating, and after a five week placement I’m considering applying for a job there after graduating.”