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STUDENT NURSING TIMES AWARDS

'We're told that we won't be as good as nurses trained 30 years ago'

Last week I found myself sat between Viv Bennett, the Director of Nursing for the Department of Health, and David Foster, the Deputy Director of Nursing.

Across the table sat Jane Cummings and Dr Peter Carter.

I was terrified whenever someone asked me a question, worried that I would let the student side down

And then there was me, a second year student nurse.

I was terrified whenever someone asked me a question, worried that I would let the student side down!

But they seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, as they should be, because the Student Nursing Times Awards were all about celebrating students, and letting our voice be heard.

I had the privilege of meeting some fantastic students, caremakers, lecturers and education providers. The nurses of the future, and those who shaped them. I was able to judge the award for mentor of the year, and I found myself becoming incredibly jealous that I hadn’t had these fantastic nurses as my mentor! The winners and nominees were absolutely inspiring, and I feel safe in the knowledge that we are the future of nursing.

We work 12-hour shifts for no money, we are often the people sat by the patients bedside, we are eager to learn, eager to help and eager to care

At a time when students seem to be taking quite a lot of flack in the press, it was so uplifting to be in a room where we were praised and recognised for all that we do.

We work 12-hour shifts for no money, we are often the people sat by the patients bedside, we are eager to learn, eager to help and eager to care.

We are told that we won’t be as good as nurses trained 30 years ago, and we are told that we do not care. We are trying to develop into the best nurses we can be in one of the most turbulent times in the history of the NHS. And it was about time we got some much-needed recognition.

Thank you to Jenni and her team for making us feel valued, even if it was for a day.

Sarah Jones is the adult branch student nurse editor for Student Nursing Times.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Student_Nurse19

    It's not easy being a student nurse when the economic times are hard and we are getting told the we are "too posh too wash".
    I believe we are the best set of nurses that will emerge, because we have a lot more to prove.
    Good luck to the all nurses out there and a shout out to all the wonderful lecturers and fantastic mentors out in the hospitals!
    :)

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  • I trained over 30 years ago and i don't believe this for one moment or know who was stupid enough to say so. we were very well trained and it has provided with me with an excellent basis which has stood me in good stead all of these years with the help of CPD.

    I believe you will all be equally as good, but no better than any other year, just very different for very different times and changing care needs of the population.

    I don't think it very helpful to compare nurses training at very different times with one another but far better to work together and learn from each other and enrich our understanding and the care we deliver to our patients.

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  • Its not that we don't think you are good enough we just feel sorry for you trying to gain experience when [in my area] students are just farmed out wherever they can be fitted with no real structure or idea of what the experience will be. I have been pressured lots of times to take more students than we can cope with in our area to ensure a good learning environment but placements are scarce and for us [District Nurses] students are extra work and are of no help due to the nature of the work and the restrictions on what students can do. Students have had several lengthy placements with us and this means that they do miss out on the '12 hour shifts and sitting with patients' that you describe. Maybe it would be better if students did work on the wards for pay and were not supernumary when on placement and then placements would be easier to find and staff invested in making sure they are up to speed - it would also free up more nursing time to spend with students.

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  • i agree population needs are cahnging and probably student nurses are trained to recognize that. but to say that they are the best is stupidity and if this is the attitude they carry, god saves us from these type of nurses. i work in the community ane we see a lot of students on thier 6 weeks placemnets. quite a few mature students and as mature aldults will use emapthy and other skills to flourish, however those young in their 20's feel that the degree course is equivalent to a good nurse, which sometimes tghey get a rude awakening when they are questinoned about basic clinical knowledge. for example
    use of a manual sphygnomanometer, explaining different types of pulses, locating pulses.these simple tasks are lot of the times proven difficult for student nurses. not totally their fault as the system focusses on other learning needs. the university is only interested on bum on seats as a businness and the whole system is failing appaulllingly. however my feeling is that student nurses today are running even before they can walk. unless they are taught otherwise we will have very weak nurses with very little basic knowledge in the future.

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  • I didn't say that we would be the best, I said we were trying to be the best we could be, in quite difficult circumstances. And I think being a mature student has nothing to do with it. I applied for degree and diploma courses because I wanted to be a nurse, not because I wanted to go to university. It just happened that I got offered a place on a degree course in an area that I believed to be the best fit for me. I have just as much empathy and compassion as some of the more mature students on my course, and I would happily say that this is evident across the cohort. It doesn't matter how old you are, you either have empathy or you don't.

    Imagine how it feels to be trying your best whilst training and hearing comments like yours? It is so disheartening. That is why I was praising the Student Nursing Times Awards, because for once, we weren't being spoken down to, we were recognised. There is, of course, a problem with our training, but that is a problem with the system in general, not with the individuals. And instead of moaning about it, do your best to teach the students these skills. I value my placements so much because I learn so much more on the wards than I do in theory, but I have always worked with people who recognise that teaching is a part of nursing. I would also like to say that my first placement was with the District Nurses, and I absolutely loved it. The skills I learnt there are ones that I will carry for the rest of my career.I was never made to feel like I was extra work and I did as much to help as I could. This was meant to be an article praising students, so please don't be so negative.

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  • tinkerbell

    Age doesn't necessarily denote maturity. I have met some very immature older people, not just set in their ways but set in concrete.
    Everyone is an individual.

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  • Michelle Parker

    Well said Sarah

    I really do not understand the need for the negative comments on this blog, It was clear that you were celebrating being a student and the jaded view that we think we are better than nurses who have been in the profession for years was not relevant. Lets encourage and nuture the students who are showing such positivity instead of slating them.

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  • Michelle Parker

    Well said Sarah

    I really do not understand the need for the negative comments on this blog, It was clear that you were celebrating being a student and the jaded view that we think we are better than nurses who have been in the profession for years was not relevant. Lets encourage and nuture the students who are showing such positivity instead of slating them.

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  • quite a few mature students and as mature aldults will use emapthy and other skills to flourish, however those young in their 20's feel that the degree course is equivalent to a good nurse

    I feel this is such a derogatory comment. Iv been doing my nurse training from the age of 18 and i am now 21. Im on the learning disability branch and because of my back ground i can say i have empathy, possibly more than the mature students.
    Negative comments such as this which i have experienced several times in parctice makes students feel worthless of which some on my cohort have left the course.

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  • maybe we should be looking at individuals and all of their merits and work on our weaknesses which all of us have.

    it is evident that some cohorts may have better training than others but much of this is outside students' control beyond their own responsibility to request further clarification and training in areas they feel are not sufficient or complaining if they feel that there are serious issues with their training which will impact on patient care and their future careers. However, it seems futile and unproductive to compare generations of nurses and claim some are better than others. these are generalisations which can serve to cause bad feelings and lack of collaboration in teamwork.

    as far as empathy goes, according to child developmental theorists, it starts to develop at a very early age in toddlers when they learn to differentiate between self and others, share with them and become aware that they also have feelings and needs which may differ from their own, and this development and refining continues throughout life.

    Empathy and its development and deepening of understanding of others probably continues to be strongly influenced by upbringing, attitudes of others in the social and cultural environment in which an individual lives which includes close and extended family, education, other professional and social affiliations, and most importantly is affected by life's experiences. Somebody who has witnessed personal suffering may have stronger feelings of empathy than those who have had far less such experiences regardless of age. Familial patterns and genetic inheritance most probably also play a role which might explain why some individuals exposed to adverse experiences themselves may be empathetic and others not. it must also have to do with personal perception and how one is affected by certain events.

    Working in nursing and interdisciplinary teams involved in patient care is one occasion when we might rightfully be able to claim 'we are all in it together' with the same focus and aims on the care of our patients and we should appreciate each and each and every one for their variety of strengths and support each other in identifying, dealing with and strengthening our weaknesses.

    battling with one another to determine who is best and with put downs for those who fail to match up to subjective expectations do nothing to help our patients or our professional collaboration which is so essential to ensure their safety and enhance to the best of our ability their quality of care.

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