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'Nursing is my day and night, so how do people with commitments cope?'


Student nurse Claire Aubrey realises nursing is her life

I have no life. It’s ok - do not feel sorry for me. My course is getting me where I want to go. However, I officially have no life.

I have a list of jobs as long as my arm on a daily basis, as well as another list of things I would like to do, if my first list were finished but nursing is everything, day and night. So how do people with children cope? Or part time jobs? Or a hobby?

I do not think I have mentioned the fact that my husband is also a student nurse with me. Yes, he is at the same university. Yes, he is in the same class. And yes, everyone finds it highly entertaining and somewhat amusing. However, it means that we live and breathe nursing, all day, every day. Even now he is up late tweaking his assignment and we have both had the same stress over work for the past seven weeks.

Sometimes it is a blessing because it means you always have someone there to empathise with every small detail of your life. You do not have to spend hours explaining who is who and what you mean by this and that. Some of my friends have bemoaned the fact that they can not talk to their partners about their daily endeavours because in some ways it just does not translate. Some feel frustrated that they can not fully appreciate the daily slog and the constant effort required to impress people, be it at university or through an essay or on placement.

Do not get me wrong, I go out walking in the Peaks sometimes, I have a few penpals to keep my Spanish up and I watch the occasional film but it is very difficult to ever move the topic off nursing and even when it is not being spoken about, we will both have that same glint in our eyes that means it is on our minds.

I am not moaning - I am lucky - if I want to spend three days solid writing my assignment I have the freedom to do so. I have no family commitments, no scheduled appointments and no school run, and yet I still feel completely consumed by the study process so how do others divide their time?

With my latest assignment I could see some of my friends heading towards a complete nervous breakdown and I could not help but wonder why this is. It is frightening that the pressure is so immense that men and women of usually sound mind turn to complete gibbering wrecks throughout the course. I can see why so many have talked about the second year blues as by that point, you must feel so drained but with the same again to go that you do not know whether you are coming or going!

I would like to hear others’ opinions on this as I can not believe it is a mere phenomenon at our university.

Perhaps my suggestion would be to remember that it is a supported course and that there is always someone to help you out if you need it. And, if we are all feeling the same way, there must be some comfort in the fact that we are all in it together. And it’s not forever…


Readers' comments (14)

  • Easy, I cope by not allowing it to become my day and night. My career is important to me yes, and (university time apart when working and studying more hours was necessary to get through it) I work hard at it, BUT I in no way allow it to take over my life. The life part of the work life balance is important too. I leave work on time, I do not split my days off, I enjoy time off with my friends/family and have time to myself, etc. Too many people forget the life part of the work/life balance and end up burned out before long, with the negative health effects that go along with that.

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  • Natalie Jewell

    Mike is, as he often is, right about work-life balance. It is easy to get caught up in the here and now and forget the longer term health impacts. Physical and mental health both suffer if you don't take enough time out. It's not easy to do so when you are studying but when you get out the other side take some time off and before you finish try to make time for yourself even if it's only for 30 minutes at a time. When you qualify remember to take breaks and if you work with some, who should know better and don't take breaks, try to bring them round to joining you in taking breaks rather than you joining them. You and your team will benefit in the long run and bad habits are hard to break.

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  • work-life balance and health is of first and foremost importance and so are opportunities both in, and especially out of, work.

    when you are retired you may look back at all those evening and weekend activities you had to give up for work or even when you were off duty but just felt like staying at home. You may regret having missed out on some of these opportunities by putting work first and for not pushing yourself harder when you thought that you just needed to stay at home and rest to be fit and more on the ball for the next shift!

    Life is short and many opportunities may not arise again later on and some of the newer opportunities which arise may be less attractive. Seize the moment and do not live a life which is later on full of regrets. Only this is can lead to enrichment, increasing experience, building foundations for life long learning about all manner of things, developing new interests and later on happy and satisfying memories of a fulfilled life which being tied up as a workaholic in the narrow confines of a career will not bring.

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  • A quick advice! Student life, assignments, research, group work, attending and adapting to different placements......become easy in the long run, the more you do, the better you get. I felt very stressed out when I did my degree (which I completed 2 years ago)whilst running family of 3 kids, both my husband and I work full time, not to mention the financial pressure around us....I really thought to myself during that time, how easy life would have been if I had just me to look after plus my studies! So you are certainly ahead of many of us, make the most of it and stay focus! Good luck!

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  • There is more to life than nursing, and if you don't take care of yourself and get a better work/life balance, you will burn out earlier than most, and feel that it is such a waste. I didn't use to have a good balance, and nearly burnt out, but for the last 10 years it has been much better, and has made me more effective. (I made a lot of adjustments to improve my life).

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  • Hello,
    I am a french nurse. When I was in nursing scholl I had the same problems. These studies are very hard: as well physically as psychologically. I have worked for six years. When you work, you will realize it was necessary to be a good nurse. You will be proud of you, you will see patient's gratitude, you will be happy to do what you like. And you will say: "It was worth it"
    Good luck!
    P.S (post-scriptum): Sorry for my english

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  • Bravo Elodie, very well and sensitively expressed, and in a foreign language.

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  • Adrian Bolt

    I agree with Mike (and others), sounds like you need to get out a bit more.

    @ elodie, "nursing scholl" I like that it sounds very.....french.

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  • There has been some very good advice in the posts for you Claire. I wonder if having your husband so closely connected to your working life and career might actually put you at a slight disadvantage? I am sure that you are very supportive with and understanding of one another's challenges. However, it would seem that Nursing is too much the focus of your lives. But, don't give him the boot; I'm sure he's lovely!! Perhaps, it might be an idea to look outward and cultivate other interests. That life experience will enhance your career. Good Luck for the future. It'll be worth all your hard work.

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  • The lecturers would have you believe that you should eat, sleep and walk nursing, but as a mature nursing student, married with 4 children aged between 9 and 14, I find that yes you do have to work hard and at time (in between assignments) lock yourself away, but you also have to take time out and enjoy your family and life in general or you will begin to resent the hard slog and blow a fuse! It is al about the balance, get it right and the whole student experience will be a good one, Good luck to you all xxx

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