What can you do to get the most out of your first year as a student nurse?
1) Enjoy Fresher’s week and all the opportunities that it entails (make of that what you will)! If you are on campus, do join a club or two as well – there is balance in not studying 24/7.
2) Attend lectures from the start – I know, I know – very basic advice! But a lot of the basics are taught in the first few weeks at university (such as how to reference which is the bane of life itself). Believe me - you do not want to be scrambling about learning basics like referencing in second year…
3) Be friendly. Grab every opportunity to make friends on the course! You will spend (what feels like) endless hours and days in lectures. Sitting with people who you enjoy the company of will make a MASSIVE difference (take note, I personally pick friends who don’t mind the odd puddle of drool on their shoulder).
In fresher’s week I placed an advert on the university nursing website asking if anyone fancied a coffee. About 20 people contacted me. Strong friendships began that day, so, don’t be shy, bite the bullet and be proactive! Remember, everyone is feeling JUST as awkward as you are.
4) Keep calm and carry on (yes, that old chestnut!). In the next few months you WILL feel overwhelmed AND frequently (if my journey is anything to go by). You WILL be asked to do things that look impossible. Remind yourself that they are NOT impossible - they are just a bit hard. You CAN do it! Grab a coffee, take deep breaths, moan to a friend if needs be but mostly just sit down and start the work – the rest will come.
5) Make friends with the librarian allocated to your course – she/he may save your bacon on more than one occasion (yes, Mya, I am talking about you!).
6) Be prepared to share your concerns. Whether this is sharing concerns with your academic mentor, placement mentor or mum - be open and honest. You are on a steep learning curve and may need to talk about what you are seeing and experiencing in order to make sense of it all. This is normal and to be advised.
7) When you feel like throwing the towel in – DON’T. This will happen (perhaps monthly coincidentally enough). Don’t give up, you have come too far. You really CAN do it.
8) Be kind to yourself and others – you can’t be perfect, you can’t know it all – what you can do is - be kind. I personally find that this oft forgotten attribute makes ALL the difference on the nursing journey.
9) Be prepared to work hard – if you do, you will pass your (sometimes horrid) assignments and placements and will acquire a sense of achievement like no other.
Lastly, 10) enjoy the journey – before you know it you will be an old third year like me and wishing you could do it all over again (just for the hell of it!). Remember also, what a fantastic resource the student nursing times is (and I am not just saying that because they picked me to write an article). The Student nursing times is interesting both from an educational standpoint but also in reminding us that we are not along on this rollercoaster journey!
On that note, take a seat, buckle up and enjoy your ride!
Good luck, Krissy
Kristine Scott is in her third year studying mental health nursing at University of Stirling