Judith Barbaro-Brown, Teaching Fellow Phase 1 Medicine, Dr Andrew Chaytor, Lecturer in Pharmacology, Natasha King and Steve Leech, Foundation Teaching Fellow and Admissions Manager

Former student to study medicine at Durham University

Former East Durham College student and call centre worker Natasha King is still pinching herself after starting a five year course studying medicine at Durham University.

Natasha, 27, from Peterlee, studied at the Peterlee-based college back in 2011-2012 on the one year Access to Higher Education course whilst working in a local call centre.

Following her successful completion of the college course, with distinction grades, Natasha managed to secure a place at Durham University in 2012/13 to study on their one year Medicine with Foundation course, which provides a preparation year for non-traditional students entering medicine.

Natasha is one of only six foundation students to go on and win a coveted place to study medicine on the five year MBBS Medical programme at the Russell Group university’s Queen’s Campus at Stockton-on-Tees.

Natasha said: “I can’t believe I am now a fully fledged medical student at Durham University, I keep pinching myself to check it’s not a dream.”

Single mum Natasha had originally enrolled on the Access course at East Durham College with a view to becoming a midwife. However, a number of her college lecturers encouraged her to aim higher and follow a career in medicine.

“I joined the Access course because I knew I wanted more than to be stuck in a call centre the rest of my life.  My mum works for the NHS so I thought I’d try and get some qualifications to work in the healthcare profession as I know from mum how rewarding it can be.

“Without the staff at the College I would not be in the position I am today. I can’t thank them enough for encouraging me to aim higher, the continuous support they gave throughout the course and their willingness to help whatever the problem.

“I enjoyed the course thoroughly. It was also excellent how flexible it was, which allowed me to manage work and my son alongside my studies.

“I would highly recommend anyone even thinking about the Access course to seek more information and seriously consider signing up. I myself am a single parent and know how difficult the first step can be to take, but it will be a decision that could change your future in an amazing way.”

Natasha plans on completing the five year medical degree plus a further two years as a junior doctor after which she hopes to specialise as a general practitioner.

“My son Isaac, who’s is about to turn four, is one of the main reasons I'm doing this, so we can have a fantastic future together,” Natasha added.

Alan Taylor, one of Natasha’s former lecturer’s on the Access course, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled for Natasha. The best part of my job is the affect I can have on the lives of people who come on to this programme.

“Natasha has proved that with ambition and hard work anything is possible, and I’m thrilled to have been able to help her at the start of this amazing journey.”

And Steve Leech, Teaching Fellow and Admissions Manager at the university’s Foundation Centre, added: “Returning to education is challenging, especially for those juggling study and family commitments. Natasha is a shining example of how adult learners and other non-traditional students can excel at university, if they are given the opportunity and the right preparation.”

The highly popular Access to HE programme is specially designed for mature students, aged 19+, who are seeking to get back into education and go on to university.

Alan explained: “Students may have dropped out of education due to a number of reasons such as family commitments, financial or because they just thought they did not have it in themselves to go on with their studies.

“This course is designed not only to update and improve knowledge, and have a flexible timetable, but aims to give students the confidence and study skills they need to progress into higher education.”

If you’d like to follow in Natasha’s footsteps and go on to study at university, please see our Access to HE courses section of the website or call East Durham College’s Student Services on 0191 518 8222.