Cultural Challenges Overcome By Student Nurse Naznin Banner
Cultural Challenges Overcome By Student Nurse Naznin Banner

Cultural challenges overcome by student nurse Naznin

One year into her nursing degree at Canterbury Christchurch University, Naznin Shultana has been inspired by a recent placement at ellenor. Her experiences there have completely changed her preconceptions about end-of-life care and fuelled her determination to support others when they are at their most vulnerable.

She says: “I had a month at ellenor and it was brilliant, especially the Wellbeing support and the care patients and their families receive at end of life. I was so impressed by the emotional help given to relatives. It was lovely to have the opportunity to work with the nurses there and I feel very proud to have been a part of what they do. The whole experience has made me want to work in this field when I qualify.”

As a young Muslim woman growing up in Bangladesh, Naznin says she was lucky to be able to study for a degree in fashion. Her career completely changed direction when she married. Her husband came to the UK as a student, so she applied for a visa and was able to join him. Five and a half years ago, she gave birth to a little boy, Nazif Hussain, and it was the care she received during this time that made her decide she would like to become a nurse. Once Nazif was a bit older, she signed up for the degree course at Canterbury.

She and her fellow students are offered a variety of work placements. The ellenor education department offers these to nursing and paramedic students from both Canterbury Christchurch and Greenwich universities. The aim is to build their social skills and confidence and increase their knowledge while also increasing the quality of care the charity offers its patients and their families.

Naznin, 28, says: “It’s difficult to see death, and I can’t explain the emotions you feel. As a Muslim I believe in an afterlife and am happy to speak about death, but it’s not easy. You can’t feel exactly what a patient’s family feels but you can empathise and try to understand. It’s a professional challenge. You need to be strong in that situation. I was there to give them all emotional and moral support. The whole experience left me more confident that I could deal with similar situations in the future.”

She reveals: “I was in a life and death situation myself when Nazif was born. I lost a lot of blood and was in ICU for seven days, and it was around that time I decided to change profession. The nurses were so wonderful and respectful.

“I was very depressed after that as I had no family support and felt very alone. But my son has been my inspiration. Now he is older he tells me I can do anything I want and be anything I want. He has a social communication disorder, but he’s an extraordinary boy. My son has changed my life.”

Naznin, who lives with her husband in Plumstead, receives a student grant, and travels from home to the university to study -- although some of her course is home-based and online.

She says: “When I first came to the UK, language was a problem. But when I was pregnant, I had to arrange doctors’ appointments and things and because I was from a different country, I did receive a lot of support. I did an access course in 2019 and started at Canterbury Christchurch in 2021. Because Nazif is hyperactive and finds it hard to communicate, I do get help with childcare. He can attend mainstream school but with additional support.”

For now, Naznin’s plan is to finish her degree and follow her calling as a nurse, but she has even more ambitious plans for the long-term future.

She says: “I want to do my course brilliantly and support people who need my help, but one day I intend to go back to Bangladesh and help girls and women to get educated and to be able to have a career after they are married. Many of them are still encouraged to marry young and after marriage it is not easy for them to follow a career.

“I want to do something for my country people and make Bangladesh a place where girls are encouraged to go to school and married women are able to work. If just one other woman is inspired by my situation I will be pleased. For a woman, self-belief is most important. I believe in myself. So, if I can do it, then every woman like me can also do it for themselves.”