When many people picture their retirement, they imagine lazy holidays by the sea, long lunches with friends and a chance to focus on that hobby they have always wanted to pursue. But not Arthur Louis. After decades working in the manufacturing industry, including running his own company, Arthur decided to head to University at the age of 59 to retrain as a nurse.
After selling his business, Arthur had initially set off for the sunshine of Cyprus. But after six months, he realised a life of leisure wasn’t for him. After seeing a doctor at work during his time in Cyprus, Arthur decided to apply to the University’s School of Health and Wellbeing to study a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) Nursing. He was offered a place and started his studies in January 2007.
"I was self conscious about my age when I first started but all the young people in the group were very helpful and supportive," Arthur, now 63, says.
Arthur is full of praise for the lecturers he encountered during his three years at the University.
"All the lecturers are ex-nurses so have real experience to share. Having been on the front-line, they were able to give factual answers based on their experience and knowledge," Arthur explains. "I was treated exactly the same as the other students and have nothing but praise for the University of Wolverhampton.
In my mind, they took a big chance offering me a place, for which I will be forever grateful."
As a student nurse, Arthur completed three seven-week long placements in a year in a clinical environment. He also received practical training in the University’s Skills Labs or ‘mock wards’.
He passed his course in January this year and is set to graduate from the School of Health and Wellbeing in September. Arthur’s initial ambition was to become qualified and then carry out volunteer work as a nurse abroad. However he realised during his final year at University that he needed more nursing experience to be of value to patients. Having grown attached to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, he applied for a position as a nurse in the Accident and Emergency department.
The father-of-two says: "At the age of 63, I was delighted to be offered a position there which has turned out to be even better than I imagined and I love every minute of every day I am there.
"I gain more satisfaction from this job than all the years in industry. It is a completely different world from the business one. For me, the big difference is that everything I do is patient-centred as opposed to being financially motivated."
Arthur even found adjusting to night shifts a fairly easy process, having already experienced these on his placements.
He also praises the training he received to be non-judgmental when dealing with all patients, irrespective of their manner.
"I consider it a privilege to enter people’s lives at such a critical point for them and one which I know all of my colleagues feel the same way about," he adds.
Looking back, Arthur only has one regret in relation to his nursing career.
"The only regret I have is that I did not do this earlier in life. I have always been ambitious and striven to reach the top, but I have acknowledged to myself that I don’t have sufficient working years left in the profession to gain the required experience to progress further.
"Ideally I would like to become a specialist nurse, however if they increase the retirement age to 67, I still have aspirations to become a junior charge nurse. Only time will tell."
With dedication and commitment, Arthur was able to enter a rewarding profession and gain new skills, and he is clearly enjoying the experience. He has also demonstrated that you are never too old to start a new career.
As he says: "I was an ‘older’ mature student, which I recognise, however thanks to the total support that I received from the University and now from my work colleagues, I don’t feel old. In fact, I don’t feel any different to anyone else."
For more information about School of Health and Wellbeing courses, visit www.wlv.ac.uk/shaw.