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'I wish I'd known how important essays and exams were'

Second year student nurse, Adam Hadfield, thought life as a student nurse was going to be easy …

Starting my degree in adult nursing was one of the most challenging undertakings of my life.

I thought at the beginning that my academic background and three year’s full time employment would make it easy to write assignments and work long hours on placement, but it was a lot harder than I thought.

I wish I’d known beforehand what to expect.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a good challenge and a reallyrewarding course, no other lets you learn as you work and gives you the freedom of knowledge that nursing does. The old saying ‘you learn something new every day’ couldn’t be closer to the truth for student nurses.

I was quite naïve walking into the course. I think I thought it would be easy but things like writing my first assignment and walking onto a ward for the first time were terrifying. I wish I’d known beforehand what to expect. I don’t think it would have deterred me because I love it but I wish I’d of known to mentally prepare myself, I was three years out of practice academically and I think that was the biggest challenge to me personally in first year.

I wish I’d known how big a part of the course the assignments and the exams were, it’s not all about learning to do blood pressures and take pulses

Being expected to write at a degree level was tough to begin with but I guess it’s like riding a bike. You never really forget. I guess what I’m trying to say is I wish I’d known how big a part of the course the assignments and the exams were and that it’s not all about learning to do blood pressures and take pulses.

What would I have done differently? If I could go back I would read every basic anatomy and physiology, basic medication and NMC, NICE guidelines I could get my hands on.

If I had read up on the basics before my course began it would have made my transition into the course a lot easier

You only realise just how little you know when you start your course and it does seem daunting. If I had read up on the basics before my course began it would have made my transition into the course a lot easier.

I also wish I’d saved a bit of money before starting the course. That nice student loan and bursary you get in September lulls you into a false sense of security about  your finances, but trust me it doesn’t last.

If I could go back to my first year, I’d be more proactive with my assignments too. I got them all in on time and passed everything but writing them at 11pm the night before is not good for the old stress levels. We were given obscene amounts of time to do our assignments and I wish I’d started work on them earlier.

Adam Hadfield is a second year student nurse studying at UCLAN.

Readers' comments (11)

  • And the essays while working do not finish on completion of your basic course - get used to those assignments as you'll find studying is a normal part of qualified life too I'm afraid!

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  • An interesting article with some good advice. Thanks Adam.

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  • Thank you for that Adam, I am just starting on my journey to be a nurse by doing an access course and am already realising just how hard the academic side is. There is some great advice there and I will take it all on board.

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  • i agree totally im a third year at edge hill doing adult nursing with 2 young children and am currently writing an assignment as we speak 3000 words and still 2598 to go with a week left- motivation is a must for this course and time management for me.

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  • I'm on the Access course at the moment and this article outlines why I chose to complete this course before applying to Uni - a gamble which is so far paying off, as the assignments and exams really do get the mind used to learning after a break! In my case I did meet the entry requirements beforehand but, being 28, I seemed to have forgotten a lot of math and literacy skills, but safe to say I am halfway through and have already half the necessary credits at merit and distinction - I would recommend the Access course to anybody, especially mature students like myself!

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  • Some great tips Adam. I am due to start on my journey this month and it is very daunting. The worry of assignments being up to standard scare me a little. I completed the access course and if there was one thing I learnt from that it was time management, thats the key to sucess.

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  • I am on my first year on adult nursing, but what you mentioned is right. I have 2 assignment to hand in on the 7th Jan each with 2000 words.The tricks is referencing because it is all rely on evidence based we can not use just internet source like we used to do on access.I also have 2 exams on the 8th Jan and am a bit panicking because i do want to pass everything, it is stressing yet rewarding indeed.

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  • For those on access course, please be aware that the jump up to degree level work is quite a stretch, don't be disheartened, there is plenty of support to make it. I'm only just in my first year, and thought I was keeping on top of things until we got our placement workbook, which is about applying what we learnt in lectures. Next term in uni I will pay much better attention and keep clearer notes. I've also made myself some posters to go around the house with healthy observation number - BP, temprerature, heart rate and sats.

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  • Good advice Adam. I am a first year student, the jump from access to degree is significant. The fact is you have to be more critical in your assignments and spot on with referencing. You do get support though. Good advice from Adam, start assignments as soon as you can, give yourself the time as you will be on placement and focusing on the PAD also. Revise for exams, can be a lot to take in but organise yourself and you will be fine.

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  • Great advice Adam, I am first year student, done my access to get me here. What I understand so far is In education nothing is easy, everything needs focusing and time.
    having said that if you focus and concentrate everything is dueable. Just work hard that is my weapon.

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  • Thank you for your advice Adam. Your tips are really worth for us .

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