The NHS logo on a sign outside St Thomas' Hospital (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

More and more South Asian families are realising that nursing can be a good career option for their children, thanks to better awareness about the job.

Although attitudes are changing, there’s still a long way to go before Asian families consider nursing a prestigious career option.

Former banking professional Farina Saheed made the switch to nursing after she did a counselling course and realised how much she “enjoyed giving back and helping others.”

“My mum was really supportive of my decision but initially my dad wasn’t so happy about me making the change from banking to nursing,” said Saheed, a mental health nurse from Leeds.

Mariyha Iqbal

“In Asian families, parents want their children to be doctors, not nurses,” said Saheed. “Nurses are seen as being inferior but what people don’t understand is that nurses are the backbone of the NHS and we do a range intellectually challenging work including the performance of some medical procedures, clinical research and education and treatment plans for patients.

“Attitudes are changing within the Asian community but there’s still more work to be done so people are seeing nursing as a good career option for their children.”

Her Asian background has helped her understand and tailor advice to meet the cultural needs of older Asian patients, said Saheed.

“I would definitely encourage young people or career changers like me to consider nursing as a career option. South Asians are still a minority and it would be great if we had better representation especially in mental health,” she added.

Mariyha Iqbal considers her role as a nurse extremely fulfilling and rewarding. She qualified as is a nurse six months ago and works at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

She said: “I initially worked as a healthcare assistant on the respiratory ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. While working as a healthcare assistant I developed a real interest and passion for nursing, so I decided to apply to university to study nursing.”

“I was fortunate enough to be offered a job where I did my second-year placement once I had completed my degree.”

Initially, Iqbal’s family was not happy with her decision and she had to battle with the “stigma of being a nurse.”

Continued Iqbal: “But now they have seen it through my eyes, realising that I am actually making a difference, saving lives so they are very supportive now.

“I love the diversity of my role, some days I feel like a pharmacist or a counsellor, other days I feel like someone’s brother or sister. I can’t think of another job that offers the versatile opportunities you get in nursing – the diverse range of people you meet and although the environment can be challenging, it brings out the best in you.”

The beauty of nursing, said Iqbal, is that it keeps you mentally stimulated.

“You are consistently challenged and there is always something exciting to do, whether it is carrying out procedures, caring for patients or just putting a smile on someone’s face who may be feeling vulnerable,” she said.

Nurses have the opportunity to specialise in a broad range of roles across all areas of the NHS, including: learning disabilities, mental health, and primary care to name a few. If you’re interested in a career in nursing search nursing careers.