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'Had I missed out on the bursary, I would have done it anyway'

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With just three weeks until he qualifies, student affairs editor Alan, shares his feelings on reaching the end of his placement and some the lessons he’s learnt along the way

Student editors usually finish their tenure before qualifying, but I’m finishing my course this March meaning there will be an overlap - part of my time as a student editor will in fact be spent as a qualified nurse.

I am currently in my final three weeks of placement. Ever. I have mixed feelings, but really, I want to finish as soon as possible. I feel ready to move on, move house, make new friends and find my feet in a new city. I’ve gone through most of my two years of training with a sense of pessimism, not really thinking about the future.

Who would dare imagine a life where you are that responsible?

Yet I am excited. I have received my contract of employment and I think I know where I’m going to live. I’m just crossing my fingers that nothing goes wrong. In fact, I think I have been crossing my fingers for almost two years! But as always, I feel I have much in common with my fellow students.

Whether it be the academic demands, or the realities of working in the health service, I’m sure most of us have considered whether we will make it to qualification or whether we even want to make it at all. I’ve had my doubts along the way but now that the time has come, the weight is finally lifting. And since I am feeling so positive, it behoves me to pass on such feelings to other students.

Perhaps I can do this with some of the things I have learned along the way:

  • You will very likely pass – if you want to – anyone currently studying nursing knows that the demands placed on student nurses are quite different to those of other graduate subjects outside of health-related disciplines. But if you can handle your first year, you can handle the third. No university wants their students to fail, and though the pressure of ’two strikes and you’re out’ can be crushing, asking for help in good time can turn any assignment around.
  • Nothing lasts forever – I have discussed in the past some difficult times I have spent during my course, and noted that even though it was difficult to get through, it did end. There will be so much opportunity for those students that persevere through tough assignments and placements and the rewards are worth it. Even the worst experience does not last forever, but you can be sure that you won’t be the one to repeat it.
  • You will get a job – needs are such that unless you wander into an interview with a chainsaw and are apparent in your disregard for patients and the staff you work with, you will get a job. Many students will receive job offers on the day of interview, many will receive multiple offers and have their pick. Other graduates have much more uncertainty.
  • Money, money, money – regardless of what you think about nurses’ pay overall, having survived two or three years on a student budget, I think most of us will be quite pleased when we do finally receive that first deposit into our accounts. And, even better, if you’re already in study or are to begin in March, you should feel pleased to have gotten in just before our bursary truly does go bust. But to those less fortunate, fear not. Had I missed the boat, I would have paid and done it anyway. It’s been brilliant.
  • Education is a privilege – before I started my training at University of York, I missed learning desperately. I am lucky enough to have already known the university life, however I think at times those of us who are having it tough forget how privileged we are to be able to spend so much time developing our skills and ourselves. Not everyone gets this chance, and not everyone who applies to be a nurse gets to be one. It’s easy to look back with nostalgia when you are at the end, but I think most of us will look back on our university days as some of our best.

I’m certainly going to miss being a student. I don’t want to re-take the course, but considering the way the wind is blowing, it won’t be long before I’m back studying something or other.

Also… I’m going to be a nurse!

And as the excitement bites, I wish those who are also due to qualify good luck, and hope that those with no end in sight can pause, and maybe reflect, ugh, on how brilliant qualifying is going to be.

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