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May 2021

Victor Tapah

Victor Tapah

BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult) 2019

1. Tell us about yourself

It’s slightly hard to talk about myself in general as this could be an endless story. I was born and bred in Cameroon with a background in Accounting and Finance.

The years I spent as an ‘undocumented individual’/asylum seeker and refugee changed my perception and meaning of life, wealth and happiness. I decided to take a risk and reoriented my profession towards something where my daily actions would make others smile. Thus, I found myself applying for nursing, without knowing exactly what was ahead. However, life is not a life without taking risks.

The daily challenges of life, either in Cameroon, or overseas, have given me a deeper life experience, which I use, not only as strength and determination to continue, but also to support and coach others. I love football and still play in the Sunday league for Coldhams Dons FC whenever possible. Before the pandemic, I also enjoyed DJing at friends' parties.

2. What is your fondest memory of Anglia Ruskin University?

My fondest memory of ARU is my first placement in a nursing home in December 2016. As a novice in the health field, I was sent to bring the commode and I walked into the sluice and could not find it, and do you know why? Because I was unable to differentiate between a commode and a bedpan.

Until now, I still remember the worry I had, and the doubt that I had created for myself as to whether I had made the best choice for myself. However, once back at university, I explained the situation to my tutor who found it funny, but motivated me to look forwards and understand that it takes time to get used to new situations. Additionally, my classmates, who later became friends, then colleagues, and who I now consider family, have been very supportive.

3. What has been your favourite job?

As a registered Nurse, you never know what to expect on your 12.5 hour shifts, especially in the intensive care unit where you are caring for extremely sick patients and some with complex needs.

4. In one word, how would you describe Anglia Ruskin University?


5. How did your time at ARU help you?

I joined ARU without any experience of the health sector, and today am a registered Nurse working in the Intensive Care Unit/Clinical Care Area in one of the best and largest Cardiothoracic hospitals, which is not by fortuity.

My tutors believed in me more than I did, and they supported me throughout my student experience. ARU took me through some key moments in my nursing journey, and today I try to bring my skills together and shape my way forward.

6. What did you love about your chosen course?

The combination of lectures, clinical skills sessions, tutor groups, presentations, and placements. The wide range of career opportunities, development, and progression and the reward of supporting, assisting, and caring for people and their family.

7. What advice would you give to current students as they’re preparing to graduate?

Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re prepared enough for your job. That feeling is normal and for sure you will never be fully prepared in a constantly evolving and unpredictable work environment. Who could have predicted COVID?

Thus, go out and conquer the world. It will be hard, you will face challenges, doubt will enter your mind, but don’t give up or quit as people are there to help and support you. Take whatever is thrown at you with your head held up, learn and improve yourself.

8. What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst studying?

I wish I had known how hard and challenging my first year as a registered nurse would have been, in addition to how to work through a pandemic like COVID.

9. Who was the biggest influence on your career?

My parents who are unconditionally supportive, even without knowing what I am going through or doing. They still have my back and motivate me to see the positive side of things.

Also, most health professionals that I have come across so far have had an impact on my career; like my lecturers (Grahame Douglas, Dr Naim Abdulmohdi and many others), my mentors, colleagues, and friends. Nursing is a learning curve; hence you learn from every day and from everyone.

10. What advice would you give your younger self?

You are the only one that can stop yourself from thriving, since the only limits in your life are those that you create in your mind. Fear is a normal feeling for those who want to succeed as nothing great will come to you easily.

11. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

I became a Unison Steward/Rep at my workplace as a form of therapy for my stammer, as it gives me the opportunity to get over my difficulty of speech, whilst also meeting people from different working environments, and allowing me to develop and diversify my skills.

I am still fascinated with taxation and finance, so I still do some research on it as well.

12. What’s next?

As a health professional still fighting on the frontline of the pandemic, it’s hard to plan what’s next. Nonetheless, there is a willingness to develop and explore a variety of things. Maybe I’ll come back to ARU for further training, and maybe I’ll have a status other than refugee.

The biggest thing that’s dearest to my heart is to find support to develop and implement a forum/charity to coach, advise and offer better nursing in Sub-Saharan Africa in general.