Nicola’s new vocation

“Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too late to change your life!” – that’s Nicola Riley’s message to anyone considering a career change.

The 37-year-old from Hartlepool is just six weeks from qualifying as a midwife and already has a job lined up at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Student midwife Nicola Riley

Nicola, a mother of a 12 and 17 year old, who lives with her partner Louis and his two daughters, has previously held a variety of jobs, having been a cleaner, restaurant waitress and an administration assistant for a haulage firm. But throughout her adult life,

Nicola always harboured a desire to become a midwife.

Talking the plunge in 2018, Nicola was accepted to Teesside University’s midwife programme after completing her access course.

Nicola said: “I always wanted to be a midwife. My own experience of having my children inspired me.

“My partner Louis has been a huge support. You need your family behind you at this age because when you get in from the ward or university, there’s more academic work to do. He’s really done his bit.”

The Trust’s deputy head of midwifery, Becky Eggleston paid tribute to Nicola’s tenacity. She said: “Nicola has worked incredibly hard to get to where she has. This isn’t an easy job to train for at any time, but to do it with a family shows real commitment and drive.

“Even during her training Nicola is a great addition to our team so we’re thrilled she’s going to stay with us when she qualifies in September.”

Student midwife Nicola Riley

Studying and training on the wards at University Hospital of North Tees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has presented its own challenges. Nicola commented: “COVID-19 has change everything.

“On the wards it’s altered everything we do and we need to provide so much more emotional support to our new mums, who are understandably more anxious then they would usually be.

“It also hasn’t been easy not being able to go to university. Online distance learning isn’t the same and we’ve not been able to do all of our practical training sessions, we’ve had to find new ways of training.

“But the university staff have been great and so have my midwifery colleagues and mentors. There’s so much support from everyone around you.”

Asked what her message would be to anyone considering a career change or going back into education, Nicola said: “Do it! It’s never too late to go back into education, to better yourself and to learn more.

“Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too late to change your life!”


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