‘Just one Love Island Insta post earns me three times more than a nursing shift’

Besides giving singletons a once (or twice), in a lifetime chance to find love while soaking up the sun in Mallorca, Love Island is known for turning its contestants into instant celebrities.

From Molly-Mae Hague’s staggering 6.8million Instagram following to Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu’s reported £1million fashion brand deal, the lives of Islanders from series gone by have been transformed thanks to a stint in the hit ITV villa.

But for some, success isn’t so much about building a profile in the public eye. In fact, many contestants have continued to go from strength-to-strength in their pre-Love Island careers.

Following an appearance on Love Island back in 2016, Rachel Fenton now works as a nurse in Dubai and is keen to encourage future generations into the healthcare field. Here, the 30 year old tells her story…

“When I was approached to go on Love Island, I never even thought I’d be given time off of work in the first place. I was working for the NHS as a trauma and orthopaedic nurse so I thought there was no way I’d get 12 weeks off. Luckily, when I got offered a position on the show, my boss was really supportive and agreed to let me on, but I had to take unpaid leave.

As soon as I left the villa, I was back on the ward within two weeks. After I came out of the show, I was partying non-stop, going to loads of events and drinking a lot and that wasn’t really me. I was out of my routine and I couldn’t wait to go back to nursing to get my normal days back.

Being in the public eye felt very overwhelming. It was so different to being a nurse, it was like being pulled from one end of the extreme to the other. I didn’t know much about the celebrity world, so going to red carpet events was very strange and I didn’t feel in control of anything.

I was part of season two, so I had no idea what I was in for when I came out of the villa. I came out with 8000 Instagram followers, but that didn’t stop brands approaching me. I remember being in Blue Water a week after the show and a group of teenagers came running up to me, asking for pictures and saying my name. I had no idea that was going to happen. If I was offered the opportunity to go on the show now, I don’t think I’d do it.

The fame was quite tricky to navigate and I had to be quite careful. One time I posted a picture like in my scrubs and one doctor sternly told me that I shouldn’t do that again. Sometimes patients would ask for photos, which again was difficult as I’d have to say no and they’d question why I couldn't. It was a fine line because I wanted to share my life and I was proud of my job, but being a nurse comes with a lot of confidentiality.

I was balancing my work as a nurse with influencing for a good year after the show. There were so many times that I’d go into the toilet while on my lunch break and change into full glam with heels and a dress and have my colleague take photos of me. Then after work I’d rush home and do more.

Despite working with clothing brands, tanning and cosmetics companies that I loved, it all took its toll. After a while I felt like I wasn’t doing both jobs as well as I could, and I knew that it was nursing that I wanted to focus on – I’d gone to uni, done placements for three years to establish my career. It wasn’t easy to become a nurse.

It was really hard to take a step back from the Love Island lifestyle when looking at the money involved. Nursing has always been my priority, but from influencing I’d get paid triple what I made in a day from a 12 hour shift. It’s not easy to take an Instagram picture and make it look good, but the money I was getting paid from brands was so different to being on my feet for 12 hours.

When I was looking for a new job, one of the hospitals found out that I’d been on the show the day of my interview. There was a student nurse there who’d recognised me and told everyone. Noone’s ever not hired me because I’ve been on the show, but there have been lots of conversations about setting boundaries in terms of what I can put out there.

I now work in Dubai as a nurse and I’m extremely content. After three years at university and endless amounts of placements, I’m able to make a difference and use my following to inspire future nurses.”

Find Rachel on Instagram @rachelfenton1


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