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Student nurse blog: I have no time to myself, but I love it


Student nurse Katy Michelle Rowan doesn’t mind her sudden elevation to health advisor for all and sundry, but whatever happened to walks in the park and lunching with friends?

It seems now I am a student nurse, people presume I am the font of all knowledge for any medical condition, ailment or general problem, regardless of whether I’m on duty or not.

One of my in laws’s phoned me last week: “Oh Katy, I’m so glad you answered, I wanted to ask your advice about something”.

I nervously asked her what the matter was and she dropped her voice to a dramatic whisper: “I want your advice about what to do if you’re sore down below?”

I almost died.

Another time, I was lucky enough to have an afternoon to myself, without children or partner in tow. I decided I would go out, have a long walk, get myself a book and settle down in a café to enjoy a good read and a bit of people watching.

I’m at the counter ordering my coffee when one of the ladies who works there spots me and tries desperately to get my attention.She beckons me over to a secluded corner and tells me she’s so glad I came in; she wants my advice about “the change”.

Being a student nurse isn’t just about learning and providing advice and education, it’s also about undertaking different roles to different people.

I have found that one of the most difficult but rewarding roles is listening. When I’m on the wards patients seem willing to reveal concerns to me that have never previously been mentioned.

Sometimes I feel like a sponge as I absorb all these things.I have come home some days and sobbed with the weight of some of the secrets that have been shared with me.

Every now and then, I find it a real struggle balancing all these different roles. Sometimes I feel like I’m being suffocated with the pressure of placement, home life, university and trying to bring up two kids with only my other half for support.

Occasionally, and I know this is incredibly selfish, I wish I didn’t have all these responsibilities.

It gets overwhelming with people relying on me to do the housework, make the dinner, put the kids to bed, write a good essay, read more journals/books or fill in massive loads of paperwork for lecturers or mentors to mark.

I feel like I don’t have time for my friends anymore as I’m always busy, on placement or have the kids in tow. In fact I barelyhave time for ME anymore.

I’m currently on placement at a medical ward. Unfortunately, my kids seem to be conspiring against me to see who can get me up the most times in the night.

Last night my little boy won with a record four times, my little girl almost outdid him by wetting the bed, resulting in a 1am frenzy.

The youngest has also taken to wandering into the bedroom in the early hours and climbing into our bed. It’s like sharing with a large, sleep-talking octopus.He wiggles and kicks, robs the entire pillow and will randomly shout “mine” and “yoghurt” at 4am.

Normally I can manage with limited amounts of sleep, but when I am on placement it gets very tough. I have been lucky enough to get a fabulous mentor who enjoys having a student to teach. But after a week, the exhilaration of learning new things wore off and exhaustion took over.

I’ve been put on night shifts for my final two weeks.I am actually looking forward to this – purely because I will get to have a bed to myself when I come home and I may even get more than four hours of unbroken sleep.

Despite the tiredness, I still love my course. I can’t seem to leave the ‘nurse’ at the hospital as I get waylaid in coffee shops or on Saturday nights for advice.

My friends and I have resorted to meeting up at supermarkets so we can catch up in the coffee shop before they do the shopping and I disappear to work or uni. Gone are the days where we’d meet up and put the world to rights over lunch. I have realised that this is all part of my life now and I enjoy it.

It just takes one person to say just one nice thing and all this pressure is worth it.

It’s overwhelming how nursing takes over your life; but I feel like I’m growing every day. I can’t wait to meet the person I will become in two years time when I qualify. Hopefully she’ll be a good nurse, and maybe even have a bit of time for herself!

Related article: Nursing Times Student Guide


Readers' comments (13)

  • It's funny to think that we are all experiencing the same things that you mention. I have often wondered sometimes whether it's all worth it and yes i agree it just takes that one thing for someone to either say Thank You or give you a smile to keep you going. Sometimes the way my timetable is i worry that if i sit and do nothing i feel guilty that i should be doing uni work instead of reading a book non nursing. I am nearing the end of my course and i can honestly say it has been a journey for me and others around me. It is tough but you learn so much about life and yourself too, you encounter situations that you never thought you would encounter but something inside you spurs you on. I can't describe the feeling, maybe its determination? Good luck with everything. Take care.

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  • Hello, I am a 1st year student in Malta. I exactly experience all your feelings and thoughts. It's really incredible that though we come from different environments, we all still feel and think the same. When I'm on my placement, I just feel I don't want to go home and even though I feel tired after 12hours of placement, I still don't want to go and rest at home. I'm really enjoying this course. Nursing is becoming more than just my future profession, it's becoming my life

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  • I'm a new student within the world of nursing, joining last Sept, I realised that the adventure that lay before me would present me with difficult challenges, the many interesting situations that I would find myself in and the numerous dilemmas that I would be required to solve.

    Not to mention the fantastic friends that I would make along the way and the forging of professional relationships with lecturers, university staff and the numerous medical staff that I would work alongside.

    But after almost six months into my three year course, realisation has morphed into understanding, which is a completely different phase. Understanding that dates and deadlines written within a timetable actually translate to many, many, many hours sat at a desk, either at home or within the university library in order to receive the mark/results that you need to continue on the course.

    I agree with Katy that time spent with friends is limited, time spent enjoying your favourite hobby becomes a distant memory and time spent lounging about at home with nothing to do seems to be a thing of the past.

    However, on the plus side, the person I was before I started the course is also morphing into someone who I am so looking forward to meeting come Sept 2011 and it is this realisation that makes the course so worthwhile.

    2008 Student Nurse Melvin Nicholson
    2011 RGN Melvin Nicholson

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  • Oh I hear you. I have no immediate family. It is just me. myself and I, a student nurse, who has suddenly turned into. "Dear Nurse, you might be able to help me with this?" from most people I know. I have suddenly turned into an advice line for all. And a big thank you to Google. .

    I love having patient secrets stored up inside, sometimes my dreams are slightly disturbing, but I am coming to the end of my first 12 week placement so I presume I am adapting to the dramatic change from what my previous life entailed.

    I could not imagine myself doing anything else, at all. Like you; I can not wait to meet myself in three years time.


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  • oh my god, all that is soooo true, yet as you say evan with all the pressure, 1 nice comment from a patient that has appriecated the extra 5 mins you can spare, makes all the hard work worth while.

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  • Hi to all,
    I am a 1st year student nurse,and I feel precisely the same......I am tired all the time,I am in my 4th week of my first placement.It is very tiring,challenging,but somehow I am enjoying it.
    At the moment I am taking some time off from my PLD and here I am writing this few words.
    Sometimes I do feel all alone against the big world of nursing,but after I have read your post I do not feel alone anymore.
    I am a mum as well and I have to share my student life with my family life,like cooking,cleaning,helping kids with homework,and so on .........
    I do not have time for me anymore.......but hopefully in the end it will all be worth.
    I am very very tired.......but I need to go back to my PLD and my essay,which is due on the 6th of April.
    Bye to all and good luck.
    p.s. I used to love gardening and still do,but my garden now almost looks like a jungle,I wonder why?
    student nurse September 2008

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  • hello guys its so good to read that you all feel the same. This is something that you need to talk to your peers about as they are the ones that will provide your support network too. I am in the last year of my training and believe me it doesnt get any easier !! You just feel slightly less tired as you get used to the pattern of uni/ placement life. It is a hard slog sometimes and a lot of things can happen in three years,but stick with it because as previously mentioned one word from a patient or a relative makes all the politics, tiredness and stress worth while. Keep these moments in your hearts and heads and they will keep you motivated and make you into the fantastic nurses that you are destined to be. Good luck to all those studying at the moment.

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  • Oh my - how all your words rang a cord with me!!! i'm a second year now ( I still get a buzz to say that) and am also a mother, friend, governor, dog owner, houseworker, bill payer, wife, food shopper, cook, cleaner, confidant...... oh and a student nurse!!! I love nursing with a passion but believe me some days that line between love and hate seems VERY fine!!! Could I do anything else - I doubt it. Just remember when your on a down - the only way is up!!

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  • I know what you mean about people asking outside of placement. To be honest it has only really started recently as I work in Tesco part-time and since some people both staff and customers know that I am training to be a staff nurse the questions arise. I do not actually mind questions being asked at the moment but I think at times I would rather them not be asked.

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  • Danielle Pryce

    I am a first year student nurse and have experienced the same with people seeking advise :) I think that it all started on the 2nd day of starting uni! I also go through the same guilty feeling when I pick up a magazine to browse through or a 'non-nursing' book and have to say that I actually miss them when I don't have my head stuck in one. I love what I do and would not change it for the world. There are ups and down, happy times and sad times but it all feels worth it when someone thanks you for all the hard work we are doing for them. Good luck to everyone, keep up the good work!

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