Graduation joy for Orcadian nurse Sara

Orkney nurse Sara Murray has secured a second degree from Robert Gordon University (RGU) after completing a distance learning occupational health course while working full-time.

Sara MurraySara (37) graduated with a BSc Hons in Occupational Health Practice from RGU at a ceremony at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen on Thursday, July 14.

The former Kirkwall Grammar School pupil previously graduated from RGU in 2005 with a BA in Adult Nursing and started working at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary before later taking a job at NHS Orkney.

Sara, who was the first in her family to gain a degree, said: “I’m incredibly proud of my achievement and to be graduating from Robert Gordon University for a second time feels very special.

“It wasn’t easy getting back into study and academic writing after graduating eleven years earlier. I worked full-time while studying distance learning this time and also battled with ill health at crucial times of the course which made it challenging.

“I was diagnosed with Diverticular Disease during my studies which required hospital admission and I also had a relapse during the time when I was handing in my final dissertation.”

Sara worked for six years in Acute Medicine at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) before taking a six month career break to travel round the world. 

Upon her return to Orkney she started working night shifts in Acute Medicine and Accident and Emergency and also provided on-call cover for the islands.

Sara later started a new role as an occupational health bank nurse at Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall before starting work on her new qualification from RGU.

She said: “Within six months of starting as a bank nurse I started work on the degree. It was part funded by NHS Grampian and was also distance learning which meant I could continue to earn money and stay at home while I was studying.

“Having the BSc Hons in Occupational health practice now makes me a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (SCPHN) which will be useful in the future for whichever direction I plan to take with Occupational Health Nursing.”

Sara has recently taken up a post with the NHS Orkney Public Health Department working as a vaccine co-ordinator and Public Health Practitioner.

She said: “I also have plans to continue working within the field of Occupational Health Nursing and have started my own company to provide occupational health services within Orkney to companies on the Islands. 

“Currently companies need to source occupational health from off the island which comes at a cost and I believe I’ll be a more cost effective option.

“Although NHS Grampian provides occupational health services for NHS Orkney and some external contractors, I believe there is no one else currently on Island providing the same services that I will be.”

Release by
Kirsty GroseneillCommunications Office Placement Student