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Student nurse blog

‘As a student nurse, I'm not sure what I should be competing for'

5 March, 2013 Posted by:

I can’t believe it’s only been a year since I was offered a place on an adult nursing course. So much has happened since then: I’ve moved closer to university, left my job, started my course, learnt to budget, got another part-time job and even completed my first placement on a general medical ward!

I hardly recognise myself as that nervous interviewee standing in the university corridor awaiting my fate. It feels surreal to now see other potential candidates stood in the same corridor anxiously waiting their nursing interviews. I wonder if they realise just how competitive it can be to get a place on a nursing course, even with relevant experience and education.

At my university alone, there were around 2,700 candidates applying for approximately 100 places - that’s less than a 4% success rate and makes me feel very privileged to have been given a chance. I’m proud to have the N-factor!

Knowing how valuable nursing places are made me even more determined, which reaffirmed how much I wanted to become a nurse.

Training a student nurse is a huge investment for HEIs and the NHS and I appreciate the need for a robust set of criteria for candidates, but I do wonder if nursing has become too competitive, particularly in light of reports of an upcoming shortfall of nurses. I worry that when I qualify I will struggle to deliver the care I know I can provide simply because of unmanageable workloads and staffing levels.

Since last September, I have been regularly reminded that the next three years as a student nurse will not only teach me the science and the clinical skills needed for practice but will be the longest interview process I will ever go through. What a very scary thought! I understand why this is; I have to make the transition from IT employee to student nurse, and then to staff nurse with a code of conduct to adhere to and with very specific competencies to achieve.

My concern is that, to me, “interview” also implies competition.

It is hard enough for me to accept that once I become a registered nurse I will have to compete for what feels like an ever-shrinking pool of jobs, but as a student nurse I’m not sure what I should be competing for.

I absolutely want to do the best I can and become a confident, competent professional with the compassionate, kind, understanding and caring outlook that I hope all nurses have, but I also want my fellow students to do the same.

I want us to be part of the same team so that when we are all ready to go out into practice we have the skills and attitude to work as a unit with common goals. We need good team work and mutual understanding to be able to meet the challenges of providing high-quality care in increasingly complex circumstances.

Ruth Perez-Merino is in her first year studying adult nursing (degree) at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Comments (1)

'Should I put my nurse training before my family?'

20 March, 2010 Posted by: -

Quite a few times over the past two years my role as a mother has conflicted with my role as a student nurse. Usually one role has been sacrificed for the other and sometimes I have regretted my choices as I realise I made the wrong decision. I’m starting to get better at resolving my conflicts, or perhaps I’m just getting better at juggling my dual roles. Currently, I am in a quandary concerning a decision that affects my family and my nurse training. 

I am currently choosing my electives. This means that I can ‘elect’ to spend 12 weeks on placements that are of particular interest to me. My electives start in September and I have chosen to divide my elective into three blocks of four weeks each. My little girl also starts school in September. Now here is where my dilemma’s start.  My elective’s start the same day that my little girl starts school.  

I’m hoping my first elective placement will let me work my first shift around her first day at school.

I’ve had one elective placement confirmed, but I’m struggling to decide where to spend the other 8 weeks. My partner and I will also have to juggle my shifts and his job around our daughter’s school hours.

I would miss putting my children to bed; I would miss my daughter as she develops and grows and discovers what life at primary school is like.

Emergency care is where I hope to work when I qualify, so 4 weeks in Accident and Emergency would be ideal, 4 weeks at a walk in centre would also provide invaluable experience. The one placement that I am agonising over is the possibility of 4 weeks at a major trauma centre 240 miles away from my home. Commuting would not be an option so I would have to find accommodation in the area.

This would be a fantastic opportunity and I have already made enquiries concerning the possibility of a 4 week placement. My other half has said he is happy to take full responsibility for our daughter’s school drop off’s and pick ups during those four weeks should I choose to go ahead with the placement. But the one thing that holds me back and stops me committing 100% to pursuing this possibility is being away from my family. The longest I have been away from them is 3 nights when I went to Congress last year. The second night I cried as I was missing them so much. I know I could juggle my hours so I could get to spend 2 days a week at home, but I would still be away from them for 5 nights. I would miss putting my children to bed; I would miss my daughter as she develops and grows and discovers what life at primary school is like.

On the one hand, it would be a superb learning opportunity, on the other hand, the thought of being away from my children for four weeks, especially when my daughter is just starting school I find upsetting. 

I have to decide by the beginning of April. My head is telling me it would be a fantastic experience; my heart is telling me to put my family first. I’m not sure which one will win.

Comments (27)

'Seeing the patients forge friendships and share stories is fantastic'

5 February, 2010 Posted by: -

My little girl has learnt two valuable lessons this week. The first was discovering that oxo cubes are not chocolates. The second was concerning death.

Her Granddad’s dog died earlier in the week so her Daddy tried to explain the concept of death, dying and not being there anymore to her. She found it very distressing.

My little boy is still too young to understand death, he is only aware that his granddad is sad. I think he perhaps thinks that his granddad’s dog is lost somewhere and will come back soon. I think he’s basing this on the fact he lost his favourite toy last week at nursery and it was found again yesterday. To him his granddad’s dog is just lost.

I believe the way people view death depends on their age, life experience, religious views and are all subjective to the individual. 

There is a brilliant feel of camaraderie about the ward as the patients all chat together and share experiences.

I am currently on placement on a male cardio-thoracic ward. Most of the patients are admitted for open heart surgery. For the majority of them, the surgery is a massive wake up call. There is a brilliant feel of camaraderie about the ward as the patients all chat together and share experiences. The pre-op patients often share bays with post-op patients and they seem to find it hugely re-assuring seeing people who have experienced open-heart surgery up and about just days after the operation. The majority of patients care about each other and as soon as they realise that someone who they met 2 days ago is back on the ward after their surgery, they go and catch up with them. Seeing these men forge friendships, sharing stories, laughing and generally just being thrilled that they are alive is fantastic. Most patients leave the ward determined to make the most of life, to exercise more, stop smoking and eat healthier. The thank you cards that are sent to the ward are beautiful to read.

Once again I can’t believe how lucky I am to be having such a positive experience as a student nurse. The staff are all fantastic, I have been given 3 mentors and all the qualified staff are happy to work with me and share their knowledge. One of the doctors has even taken the time to sit down with me and explain things that I was struggling to understand. 

I can’t decide if it’s the positive attitude of the staff, the positive attitude of the patients or more likely a combination of both that is making this ward in particular such a wonderful learning experience for me. Whatever it is, I am enjoying it thoroughly.

Comments (3)

Why nursing theory is just as important as practice

8 January, 2010 Posted by: -

This was reflected in a comment my personal tutor made to me before Christmas. He asked my opinion on why students seem to neglect the theory side of the course. We had been having a discussion regarding student attitudes and how some students believe it is acceptable to be late or not turn up for the theory side of the course, how some students will have a nap, listen to music, and play games or read papers whilst in lectures yet when on placement never dream of behaving in such a way. I struggled to give him an answer.

I spend 50% out on the wards and 50% of my time in University learning the theory that underpins my knowledge. Everyone is quick to compare wards, who the nice nurse is, who the great mentor is, if they give you good hours and if they make you work weekends. Yet there never seems to be so much discussion about the academic side of being a student nurse.  Personally I enjoy the academic side as much as the practice element of being a student nurse. I enjoy being challenged to learn, to complete research. But I also love being on the wards to learn the practical skills of nursing, to increase my communication skills and completing patient care, to me the two aspects of learning compliment each other.

Most lecturers will be qualified nurses and many still work out in practice to keep their skills up to date. Lecturers will have many years of practice and experience that shouldn’t be undervalued. I personally have found the knowledge and guidance from my lecturers is second to none and directs my learning.  They want to share their knowledge and they want to help you get to grips with the course. They push you to understand that you need to know the theory to be able to apply the practice when you get out on the wards.  I am finding that I am actually starting to understand the academic side of things.  My Eureka moment was when I was watching Casualty one Saturday night and I actually understood what they were talking about! 

Your lecturers are there to provide support as well as education. My personal tutor was the one I turned to when I experienced my first arrest. He managed to make sense of the hysterical, sobbing message I had left on his answer machine and took the time to phone me back and make sure I was ok. His support and encouragement keeps me going. He has faith in me when I doubt myself and my ability. This encourages me and makes me think, if he believes in me, surely I must be doing something right???

What I am really trying to get across is don’t underestimate the academic side of your learning by placing all the importance on your practical experiences. The academic side is there to give you knowledge, broaden your horizons and challenge your ways of thinking. The practical and academic sides of being a student nurse are both important. They each compliment the other so when you qualify, the skills you have gained from both will make you a safe, competent and knowledgeable nurse.

Comments (4)

'I am a student nurse and I have never, ever refused to participate in basic nursing care'

12 November, 2009 Posted by: -

I love what I do, I love being a student nurse and being challenged by university and my placement to broaden my learning and knowledge. 

However find myself obliged to defend student nurses after reading How student nurses’ supernumerary status affects the way they think about nursing, Are student nurses too posh to wash? and Clearing up poo will not help me learn on this week.

At RCN Congress Gordon Brown said nursing is a “profession where you work with your head, heart and hands at the same time”.  I agree, nursing is a profession that is demanding and rewarding. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. We may be students, but we do work hard and we are continually challenged on every level to use our heads, hearts and hands.

As a student nurse, I have never, ever refused to participate in basic nursing care. I have each and every time thrown myself into the role of student and willingly learnt about bedside care from HCAs and staff nurses. 

I was lucky enough to have a fabulous mentor on my very first placement. She had only been qualified about 18 months ago but she made sure I understood how important the basics were. Every day she came and did the care round with me and ensured I understood the importance of dignity, respect, examining the patient, communicating, and making sure the patient was comfortable.

Life lessons

The lessons she taught me will stay with me forever. Yes, while at university we had a skills session on performing a bed bath. Performing bedside care on a dummy is vastly different to performing it on a real life human being. No matter how hard university tries – it can’t simulate the real life experiences that you get as a student on the wards. 

But university can help you learn the reasons for what you do; it’s up to the individual to apply the theory. University equip us with the knowledge we need to become nurses, but practice comes only with experience. The universities give us the text books to read and the essays to write in the hope that we will broaden our knowledge and be educated practitioners.

“I don’t believe student nurses are too ‘posh to wash’, and I do believe we should know the basics”

But writing a good essay does not a good nurse make.

Being supernumerary means we are additional to the clinical workforce, and we undertake placements in clinical areas to learn; we are not counted as members of staff. I have never found being supernumerary detrimental to my status as a student. Being supernumerary has allowed me the flexibility to muck in as HCA, to do the drugs round with the qualified staff, to be able to go and watch procedures or attend appointments with patients. When I’m qualified I won’t have this flexibility, so I like to grab every learning opportunity that I can.

Back to basics

As for student nurses refusing to perform basic care? Perhaps this has been misconstrued.

When we go on placement we have paperwork to complete, this sometimes becomes the focus of a students attention as without this paperwork being signed off, we cannot pass the placement.  I feel that the emphasis university place on having the paperwork completed can result in some students losing sight of other things, especially if they have a mentor who doesn’t have the time to complete the paperwork. 

But I also acknowledge that the paperwork has to be there as a form of assessment for the mentors, placement areas and universities to be able to assess our competency in practice. We stress about the paperwork, we have tonnes of it, it is perplexing and perhaps at times repetitive - but it needs to be done. As I rapidly approach my 3rd year with a skills log with over 200 competencies that need completing, I am starting to panic.

I don’t believe student nurses are too ‘posh to wash’, and I do believe we should know the basics. Mentors have a massive responsibility in this regard. A good mentor can challenge and develop a student; and help them understand the importance of the basics. I have been incredibly lucky with all my placements and had superb mentors.

And don’t forget we aren’t just student nurses. The majority of us study full time and we also have jobs, kids to look after and our own dramas. But whatever we are going through, the majority of student nurses are here because we are passionate about what we do. We want to learn and we want to be good nurses.

We are perhaps cocooned in the safety of student status. Qualifying, and being suddenly accountable, is a very scary thought. When I qualify I don’t expect to be a ‘supernurse’ who knows everything. I hope to be a safe nurse who understands the importance of the basics.

Comments (22)

My little girl's first day at school, and why emergency care is the career for me

28 October, 2009 Posted by: -

My little girl starts primary school next year. I had never realised how difficult it is to choose a primary school, after wading my way through Ofsted reports and school open days I think I have finally narrowed it down to two schools. Looking at primary schools has frightened me with how quickly my little lady is growing up.  I will be the mother who cries when I drop her off for her first day next September, I just need to make a decision about which school to send her to first!

I managed to leave my primary school dilemma behind for 2 days last week to attend the Emergency Care Conference which was taking place in Harrogate. When I started my training over 18 months ago, it was with a vague idea that emergency care was the area that I wanted to work in when I qualified. As I have progressed through my course, this idea has crystallised into certainty, so when I saw an advert for the RCN Emergency Care Conference I knew I wanted to attend.

The conference was a two-day event with concurrent workshops taking place, exhibition viewing, poster presentation and a black tie reception on the Friday evening.  I have to admit I was a bit nervous that I may have been out of my depth attending a conference where experienced emergency care staff were presenting and debating on topics such as RCN policy towards knife crime.  However, I can sincerely say that everyone I met, be they Matrons, Emergency Care Practitioners, Staff Nurse, Paramedic or Lecturers were more than welcoming and genuine in their pleasure in finding a student nurse attending the conference. 

“It is reassuring to know that so much hard work and enthusiasm is being channelled into this area and the experience has reinforced my passion for an emergency care career path.”

All the talks I attended I found interesting and educational, I also found it incredibly interesting listening to the debates.  It was fantastic being able to mix with so many people who shared a passion for emergency care be it in practice or via emergency care education.  I attended many workshops, each of which taught me something new and helped me see emergency care from a different perspective be it from the paramedics, the nurse or the relative’s viewpoint.  Additionally, there was a keynote address by Dr Peter Carter the Chief Executive and General Secretary for the RCN.  I found Dr Carter’s address very interesting as he discussed the economic challenges facing the NHS over the next few years, the current binge drinking culture and the recent scandals which have besmirched the reputation of nursing.  After his address I thought I would be cheeky and ask him for a photo!  After a quick picture I was lucky enough to get some time with Dr Carter so we talked about student education and the move to make student nurse education degree based.  He explained that it was the government and the NMC who were pushing for Nurses to be educated at degree level.  He however believed that a wider entry gate to nursing was needed to encourage uptake of nursing careers.  He also believed that a national standardised curriculum for nurse training should be brought out to rule out the disparity in the quality of training being delivered via universities and that Health Care Assistants should also have a statutory System of Regulation and Training.  I was thrilled to find he was genuinely interested in my viewpoint concerning student education.  Having the chance to talk to Dr Carter was fantastic; he was clearly passionate about nursing and stated many times that as a profession we should be proud of ourselves.

Another presentation I attended concerning the development of major trauma centres throughout the UK was fascinating and the debate concerning knife crime was a massive eye opener.  Two presentations in particular impressed me, firstly the talk concerning improving emergency care for patients with dementia I found invaluable. It highlighted that simple adjustments within the A&E department and the allocation of a dementia friendly cubicle could significantly reduce the anxiety of dementia patients presenting at A&E. Attending this talk has helped me gain a greater understanding of the anxieties dementia patients may suffer within A&E.  The other talk I found fascinating concerned developing a training package to help the police make informed decisions when dealing with individuals in public places who may have mental health needs.  The talk focused on how the police should articulate accurately their observations to A&E or the Ambulance service by using a primary survey tool that the speakers had developed. 

I feel as a student I gained a wonderful insight into the behind the scenes work that is going on to improve emergency care and the experience has been invaluable to me.  It is reassuring to know that so much hard work and enthusiasm is being channelled into this area and the experience has reinforced my passion for an emergency care career path. 

Now, before I drift off into dreams of being an A&E nurse, back to choosing a primary school….

Comments (1)

'Grumpy Nurse did not tell me her name, smile at me or calm me'

9 October, 2009 Posted by: -

I realise that there is more to nursing than this, but these are the three topics I had chosen to examine from a Legal, Ethical and Professional point of view and my stance had been that trust was the most important of these qualities.

However, a trip to the Doctors led to a referral and me experiencing life as a patient. I believe that I am trustworthy, compassionate and able to communicate; I believe that these qualities help me in my journey to become a qualified nurse. 

My experience as a patient has taught me that not all nurses have these skills.I was fully aware of what would happen to me when I went for my referral appointment,  I was perhaps a bit more knowledgeable than the average person due to my training, this did not stop me feeling anxious. 

The day of my appointment I had to be nil by mouth.  I tend to continuously drink water throughout the day, I had not realised how hard it is going without a drink for 6 hours.  I suddenly found myself being able to empathise with those patients I had met during my 8 week gastroenterology placement. When it came my turn to be booked in, I was expecting an experience similar to that from my Gastro placement.  I hoped to meet a nice, friendly nurse who would talk me through everything, calm my nerves, answer my questions and generally put me at ease. Instead I got Grumpy Nurse. 

“Grumpy Nurse did not tell me her name, she did not smile at me, and she made no attempt to relax me or calm me”

Grumpy Nurse did not tell me her name, she did not smile at me, and she made no attempt to relax me or calm me. She manhandled me into a machine to take my blood pressure; she took a pinprick sample of blood. She briskly went through my medical history without really listening to my replies. I found myself hoping fervently that this nurse would not be participating in my treatment. Then she told me something that I disagreed with, so I argued with her. Even though I knew I was right, I found myself acquiescing to her because she was in a uniform, because I was nervous and because I just wanted to get away from her. I wondered how many other patients had done the same. I was then sent to another waiting room, the sitting around waiting made me more nervous. 

My name was called and thankfully, it was called by Nice Nurse. Nice Nurse smiled at m,e which instantly relaxed me. She told me her name and then led me into a small changing room.  Nice Nurse went through my details again, she calmed me and told me she would be in the treatment room with me. I cannot explain the relief I felt knowing that someone who was able to communicate with me would be there to hold my hand. I then had to get changed into the obligatory nightgown and wait for someone to come and get me. Never before had I realised how vulnerable you feel when you are not in your own clothes, the alien feel of the hospital apparel and the coldness of the changing room started to make my nerves increase tenfold.

Then Happy Nurse came to take me through to the treatment room.  Happy Nurse was great, I liked her on sight. Happy Nurse also told me her name, made me laugh and introduced me to the Doctor. Happy Nurse and the Doctor talked me through what would happen while Nice Nurse held my hand. These 2 nurses showed me compassion, I was happy to put myself in their hands and trust them to care for me. 

I appreciated that Happy Nurse communicated with me and took the trouble to establish that I understood everything and was happy to proceed.  In recovery I met Super Nurse. There were five of us in recovery, Super Nurse managed not to panic when two patients simultaneously fainted and started throwing up at the same time. Super Nurse took it all in her stride and dealt with it all superbly.  Super Nurse also smiled, told me her name when I was more aware and offered me a drink.  In fact, she ended up making me three cups of coffee, for which I am eternally grateful. Super Nurse came and sat with me and went through everything concerning my discharge and aftercare. She was extremely thorough. I found myself admiring her knowledge and her ability to explain things in layman terms. 

The whole experience has left me hoping I emulate the traits of Super, Happy and Nice Nurse. I would be horrified to discover that I have ever been Grumpy Nurse. I acknowledge that everyone has bad days, but a basic nicety of Nursing is to tell a patient your name. Being a Nurse means being in a position of trust. 

Patients, whether they be in hospital voluntary or involuntary are forced to trust you and expect you to be competent at your job.  I found myself doubting the ability of Grumpy Nurse purely due to the way she treated me.  She could have been a world expert, but her communication skills left me doubting her competence and unwilling to trust my care to her.  

Being a patient has taught me valuable lessons in empathy. I understand the vulnerability in the simple act of relinquishing your clothes to put on a hospital gown. I can write my essay with renewed understanding. 

Communication, compassion and trust are vital elements of nursing, but the ability to communicate is perhaps the most important.

Comments (48)

"I don’t think people understand the stress that exams put students under"

4 September, 2009 Posted by: -

Do you ever have one of those days when you think to yourself “This could only happen to me”?

I seem to have them all the time.  For example, on the first day of my recent placement I was walking up to the hospital and was very near the entrance when SPLAT! A seagull managed to cover me head to toe in seagull poop.  I was literally dripping in the stuff.  Well you can imagine the impression I made as I walked into the unit and had to spend twenty minutes combing the stuff out of my hair before starting my shift.

Or there was the time when a Nurse Practitioner asked me to get him up some bedpan liners.  I looked at him blankly and told him there was no such thing and I didn’t know what he was talking about…

I am now experiencing the delightful task that is potty training for boys.  My little boy has decided he wants to wear big boy pants.  Great I think to myself, I’m on my holidays so I can concentrate on getting him out of nappies instead of concentrating on university work.   I have however, one major obstacle standing in the way of the potty training – he won’t wee in the potty.  The sofa, my shoes, his sisters toy box, the stairs, the bath, the washing machine and the kitchen floor have all experienced wet patches, the potty has stayed remarkably dry.  “Only me” I think to myself as my little man once again refuses to try the potty or the toilet but remains adamant that he wants to be a big boy and wear big boy pants.  I’m sure the learning curve I will experience over the next few weeks will stand me in good stead for when I get back on the wards.  My children have taught me many things, but one of the most valuable lessons I have learnt is patience.  I am certainly learning how to be very, very patient at the moment.


I am also waiting for my exam results to come through.  I have decided I don’t like exams.  My partner doesn’t like me having exams either – I get very stressed and grumpy.  I seriously don’t think people understand the stress that exams put students under.  I have struggled so much over these past few months.  Not just with university and placement, but with everything else going on in my life, throwing an exam into the pot just added to my stress levels.  The exam was partly on pharmacokinetics. Pharmacology and I have a mutual dislike for each other, I understand the reasons for why I need to understand pharmacology, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it or enjoy it. This time next week the postman will develop a nervous disposition as I start lurking by the front door waiting for him to bring my results.  Fingers crossed I did enough to pass.

Being on holiday from university and placement means I have the opportunity to spend quality time with my children.  While I’ve been occupied with my exam my little boy learnt the word “no” – he usually bellows it at the top of his voice before throwing himself down on the floor and having a silent protest that can last seconds or, on one occasion, 20 minutes in the middle of my local supermarket.  My little girl has decided she is in charge and makes the rules in our house.  I haven’t figured out if technically I can still class this as terrible two’s as she’s almost four, or just a girl thing and she takes after her mother.  If it’s the latter, then the teenage years will certainly be interesting. But for the next few weeks I am going to relax, take my children out, enjoy them and forget about being a student nurse for a while.

Comments (7)

'One patient can make you feel like all this hard work is worth it'

29 July, 2009 Posted by: -

I have had a very tough few months as I have struggled with juggling university work, exams, placement, ill children and trying to keep my head above water as everything and everyone fights for my attention.

But an experience I had last week made everything worth while. The tears I have cried over Pharmacology, the tiredness of revising for exams while being on placement, they all faded away when one person made me so happy and made me appreciate that everything I was going through was for one very good reason.

I was spending the day with the Diabetes Team and was in the hospital reception when I kept noticing a bloke waving at me frantically. I have to admit I did think he was perhaps a bit weird so did my best to avoid looking at him. However, I couldn’t avoid him anymore when he made a point of stopping me to say ‘hello’.

At this point I was getting worried and slightly alarmed as he was a huge guy and as we continued chatting it became apparent that he clearly seemed to think he knew me. He confirmed my suspicions when after a few minutes of polite conversation he said to me ‘You don’t remember me do you?’ Well, as you can imagine, when he said that my brain was whirring as I tried to remember what I had got up to on drunken nights out. I drew a blank and had to admit to him that yes - I had no idea who he was.

‘You looked after me when I was a patient here’. Suddenly the memories started falling into place and I did remember him. He had been a brilliant patient, an absolute pleasure to look after. He had only been on the ward for one night but I had spent quite a bit of time with him before he got transferred to a peripheral hospital.

He absolutely blew me away and made me the happiest girl alive when he then said ‘I knew it was you as soon as I saw you, I had to come over and say hello. I wanted to thank you for looking after me so well, I will never forget what you did for me’. I wanted to cry. That one comment, the fact that he had come over to talk to me, well, it stunned me. I’m not usually lost for words, but he managed to make me look like a fish out of water as I gawped, gasped and struggled to find the words to thank him.

I eventually managed to splutter out a thank you and tell him that him stopping me had really made my day. I was giddy for the rest of the week, I’m still reeling now. It is amazing how one comment, how one patient can make you feel like all this hard work is worth it. I sometimes lose sight of that fact that in 18 months time I will be qualified as I get wrapped up in studying. I have always looked forward to putting on my blues for the first time, I have always worked hard and tried my best. But to be told I had done a good job by a patient who remembered me almost a year after looking after him was the best reward I could have asked for.

Comments (5)

'I won't let other people’s angry words upset me'

22 June, 2009 Posted by: -

I need to tell the truth and not hide away my problems or struggles or I would not be accurately reflecting what I experience as a student.

Writing my previous blog was tough to write, but I am glad I did.  The comments that have been left are thought provoking and heartfelt.  I truly believe I made the right choice undertaking my training at this point in my life, not only for myself but for my family as well.

When I talk to other students who have children, I am so envious of them as they talk about how grandparents help them out, of the support they get from family and how they have been encouraged.  My partner and I struggle through on our own. Sometimes I really wish we had someone to help us out to take the pressure off.  Other times I wouldn’t have it any other way as the magical moments I get with my children make me realise I am very lucky.

My children are the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing, frustrating, naughty and down right mischievous people who I have ever had the pleasure to love.  They make me laugh as they raid the fridge and paint my washing machine in butter, they take all my pairs of shoes out into the garden and fill them with water, they get up to all sorts of things that can make me cross – hiding my car keys is a particular favourite. But I wouldn’t be without them and I wouldn’t have my life any other way.

My personal tutor is also a major source of inspiration to me – his advice is always realistic and he helps me see things clearly when my judgement has been clouded.  He has been particularly supportive this week as I managed to fail my OSCE’s.  I think perhaps at times people lose sight of how stressful an OSCE actually is.  Before I went in I knew I hadn’t prepared enough.  The weeks running up to the OSCE’s I had let life get ahead of me and I was constantly playing catch up – so revising for an OSCE and trying to learn how to do a particular procedure as dictated by the Royal Marsden had slid lower and lower down my priority list.  Anyhow – I failed.  I wasn’t surprised to be honest, just very disappointed in myself.  Nerves definitely paid a massive part and I think I had convinced myself I would fail before I went in.  Having to perform a task whilst being watched and assessed is nerve wracking, especially if your mind goes completely blank (like mine did) and you succumb to a fit of giggles (yes – I did that to).  Luckily I get a second chance in July – this time I will prepare properly and I won’t be as nervous.  I can’t be scared of something I have already experienced and I feel positive about having to retake my OSCE’s.

I am also back out on placement at the moment.  I am doing eight weeks on a Gastro unit as my high tech placement.  Once again I have been incredibly lucky and got a fantastic mentor.  I had the opportunity to spend the day with the Alcohol Liaison Nurse earlier this week.  What a fantastic experience that was, we spent most of the day on A&E and I have utmost respect for him and the work he does with alcoholics.  Spending time with people who obviously enjoy and are passionate about their work is a fulfilling experience.  He was happy to share his knowledge and I learnt not only from his words, but from watching him in action as well.

My current mentor is the same.  It is such a pleasure to learn and work along side passionate and caring nurses.  Working with nurses who take the time and talk to me and remember my name – not refer to me as “the student” makes a huge difference as well.  I am enjoying my placement because I am lucky to have a fabulous mentor and work with a great team of nurses. Enjoying my work and my experiences makes the down sides of being on placement seem not so bad.  It still hurts that I don’t see my children in the morning, but the pleasure I take in spending time with my mentor, learning new skills and meeting new people makes everything worthwhile.

I have no doubts any more, I will not let other people’s opinions or words spoken in anger upset me. I am doing what is best for me and my family, I am becoming a Nurse.

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