A lot of people knock modern nurse education, but I feel the need to stand up for students
Can you remember what it was like when you first started training to be a nurse? Maybe that wasn’t so long ago, or maybe it feels like a lifetime has passed since you made that decision to don your cape and hat.
I’ve always believed that it takes a special person to decide to become a nurse, especially now the bursary has been removed and it’s not just hard graft but hard cash you need to get your nursing degree.
When some other students are out drinking in nightclubs and staying up late the night before lectures, student nurses are clocking up long hours in placement and poring over their books to try to memorise their normal physiology.
Last week, I spent a day with some second-year nursing students and the academic staff that teach them at Anglia Ruskin University.
”I’ve always believed that it takes a special person to decide to become a nurse”
A lot of people knock modern nurse education, but I feel the need to stand up for students. Nursing is a tough degree. Those who claim it’s too academic are missing the point – isn’t it right that students learn how the cardiovascular, genito-urinary and gastrointestinal systems work in detail? Shouldn’t they be well versed on anatomy and understand fully how to recognise the signs of the deteriorating patient? I believe so.
And if you think those academic skills mean practical hands-on nursing skills are sacrificed, you’d be wrong. Students spend 2,300 hours in practice and have a whole raft of clinical skills they have to practise and document before they pass their degree.
”I am not saying that previous courses and training methods weren’t hard and didn’t create great nurses”
On top of that the students I met need to have digital, presentation and communication skills, and be able to understand an evidence base and interpret legislation and policy. I am not saying that previous courses and training methods weren’t hard and didn’t create great nurses. Far from it. But I feel it’s worth making the point that this degree is not an easy option, and I tip my hat to those who succeed at it.
But to be a good student also requires excellent teaching staff and superb mentors and placements. We pay tribute to all those people and organisations in our Student Nursing Times Awards each year. The 2017 Awards are now open for entry. If you are a student, or a mentor, educator or organisation that is training students, check out the website for details.