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Image of Jessica StirzakerSt Helens College Health and Social Care student Jessica Stirzaker has proudly overcome her struggles with diabetes to progress with her education and is now studying to become a paediatric nurse.

Jessica was inspired to pursue a nursing career having been admitted numerous times to hospital as a child for diabetic related illnesses. During her time in hospital Jessica found that the support and positive energy of the nurses really improved her own mood and well-being.

The BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care (Health Studies), the course which Jessica is currently studying, is a joint partnership with St Helens College and the NHS Skills for Health Academy, taking two years to complete. Together, the College and the Academy also offer a Level 2 Work Based Learning Apprenticeship which takes one year to complete. Both courses provide students with extensive work experience in the Health Sector.

Jessica who came to College from Haydock High said, "I am really enjoying this course, it gives a great insight into the NHS because the placements are so varied. So far I've worked at places like Newton Hospital and the Seddon Suite at St Helens Hospital. I've also been able to shadow people like health care assistants, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational health workers."

Students on the courses go out into the community on placement three days a week allowing them to develop a strong portfolio of valuable and practical skills. Jessica said, "You are dealing with real people, real experiences and real lives."

Once Jessica has completed her course at St Helens College she plans to progress on to Higher Education where she will study for her nursing degree. "The tutors at the College are so helpful and supportive. They offer good guidance with your coursework and even with your university applications. This course is preparing me well for university and for working in the NHS, because I now know what to expect," said Jessica.

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