From Cleaner to GP: Allison Corbett’s Story

After a succession of low paid jobs with no career prospects and three children to support, Allison Corbett made the brave decision to return to education and signed up to an Access to Health course at Hartlepool College of Further Education. With eight years of studying ahead of her, Allison defied the odds and is now a fully qualified GP at age 51, looking after over 4,000 patients. An achievement she admitted she never thought possible for herself, she is now keen to encourage others to strive for their career dreams.

People always say to me ‘woah haven’t you done well’ and it makes me think about the positive change that striving to better my life has had for me and my family.

My new career gives me a sense of achievement and fulfilment that I’ve never felt before, but I will never forget the sacrifices that my family made in order for me to be where I am today, and therefore I put my success down to them.

I was extremely lucky to have such a great support network, and I really believe that the key to making your dream a reality is to surround yourself with people that believe in you and will always push you forward. Now that I’m fully qualified I feel like I can give something back to them.

The financial reward is an obvious benefit, but the whole experience has enriched mine and my family’s lives in other ways too. Through going back to Hartlepool College I’ve met people and had experiences that I would never have otherwise had. I’ve introduced myself and my family to different cultures and new ways of thinking and I’m proud to be able to say that.

Was it an easy decision going back in to education? Not at all. I was riddled with self doubt. I was a stay at home mum and a part time cleaner. I’d only ever worked in pubs and shops. Could I really do it? Could I ever actually become a nurse?

I believe this attitude came from my personal experiences of school. I actually remember a teacher saying to me that they had no aspirations for me and things like that stay with you. However doors only close if you allow them to, which is why surrounding yourself with those who will help and encourage you, rather than hinder you, is so important.

When I first enrolled on the Access to Health course at Hartlepool College of FE I would never have entertained the idea that I could go on further than nursing and become a doctor, and to this day I have to pinch myself.

Making that first step does take guts but I can’t reiterate this enough, it’s completely worth it. The hard work and the sacrifices are part of pushing yourself to where you want to be, and what I say to anyone that questions it is ‘I promise it was all worth it’.

Despite the fact I’ve achieved my end goal, education is a bug and once you’re bitten there’s no stopping you. I believe it’s healthy to never be completely content career wise because setting next steps is what keeps you motivated and engaged, and what pushes you on to the next level.

My advice to anyone considering a return to education would be to keep open minded and to not let your current situation or background hold you back. Seek all the advice and support wherever you can because with the right encouragement and attitude you will fly.

I really hope my story can inspire people. I’d like to say a massive thankyou to Hartlepool College for the endless support, encouragement and belief. From the tutors and student support, to the cleaner who brought me cups of tea on those late nights in the library, I couldn’t have done it without them.

SharpLifeFrom Cleaner to GP: Allison Corbett’s Story

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