It’s a difficult one. You have a lot to learn and three years isn’t a long time in the greater scheme of things. At the same time, it’s nerve racking to do things you feel are out of your depth, and part of being a nurse (which includes a student nurse) is to recognise your abilities and “work within your own scope of practice”. The main thing seems to be that you don’t feel fully supported whilst you’re learning these new skills - that you’re having new responsibilities thrusted upon you without the ability to turn round and ask for help if you struggle and that’s understandly worrying for you. I think it would be a good idea to sit down with your mentor, or if not them then your student link nurse or personal tutor. Explain how you feel, and try to allow them to see it from your point of view, and listen to what they have to say in return. I have encouraged students I’ve worked with to do things they were afraid of doing because I knew they could do it, and just needed the support of having me there to fall back on if they were unsure - and they felt so proud of themselves afterwards. However if you feel what’s being asked of you is something that is way beyond your capabilities to a point where it would be dangerous for you or your patients, speak up.
This was exactly how I felt as a student nurse and also as a newly qualified nurse. I felt very much like there were so many things I should know that that by asking about them, my mentor or my colleagues would think I was incompetent and “not cut out to be a nurse”. Now that I am looking after student nurses and teaching them myself, I realise this couldn’t be further from the truth. I LOVE getting questions! I wouldn’t have come into the job if I wasn’t passionate about it and it’s great being able to pass on that knowledge to others, and asking questions shows you are interested in the job and keen to learn. Also don’t feel like you’re being tested when your mentor asks you questions - another thing that used to stress me out as a student. I ask students questions now to feel out where the gaps in their knowledge are just so I know what to focus on the most so students can get the most out of it. You’re not being judged! You are also at an advantage in your first year as no one expects you to know all that much - ask as many questions now so you can wow them all when you’re in second and third year with your amazing knowledge!
Comment on: 'How do you choose a specialism?'
Please don’t stress too much about this. As a third year or even a newly qualified nurse you’re not expected to know exactly what you want to do with the potential several few decades of your nursing career. You don’t have to commit to a speciality and think that’s something you have to do forever. There are A&E nurses who change their minds and go to work in the community, there are school nurses who decide to go and work in theatres - I myself am adult trained and work in intensive care and about to start a job as a neonatal nurse. If you stay in the same specialism it’s good because you have knowledge to help you in future jobs, but even if you go into something completely different it just means you’ll know things your new nursing colleagues won’t. All experience is good experience.
There will always be people in your cohort that know what they wanted to do when they qualified since before they even started first year. Then there are people who do a certain placement and love it and that’s then what they want to do. There are people who are unsure all along, and that’s absolutely okay! Look back at your placements and reflect on what aspects you liked and disliked, aim to apply for something with aspects you liked, but if you don’t like it, it’s fine. Your NMC registration just opens the door to hundreds of different types of nursing jobs and if you don’t like it you can always try something else.
I am currently in my first year as a Nursing Student after almost a year working as a health care assistant. Personally, I believe that previous experience has helped me immensely.
University does not and cannot teach you how to talk to the relatives of someone who just died, or give someone a bed bath with dignity, amongst numerous other things.
But for me, the reason I began work as a HCA was because I was interested in nursing, but thought I couldn't really know what nurses truly did until I had worked alongside them, done the night shifts, dealt with the difficult patients etc. Thankfully, I found I loved my job, and admired my colleagues, and wanted to further my career so here I am now.
However, we are only one semester in, and already, before even beginning placement, 15 people have left the course.
15 student nurses, who fought for a place on the course when there were 10 applicants for every one place, have left because they didn't realise what nursing really was about. And I can't help thinking that if they had had experience working as a healthcare assistant, learning caring skills, but also learning whether it was for them, those places could have been given to people that would have continued on to qualification.