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Student nurse blog: 'I was born to do it'

Compassion, knowledge, hard work - our new student nurse blogger Erin Docherty knows what makes a great nurse. Just don't mention the 3000-word essays

Right now I am literally tearing my highlighted hair out. It's 4.30am and I can't sleep as tomorrow is D-day - the dreaded end-of-year essay is due. Should it fail to come up to scratch, my whole career could be down the drain.

What is with that? Here I am, two years into a course that I'm loving, and I could literally fail if I don't pass this essay. Nevermind the countless hours spent on the wards, the days and nights running around like a blue-arsed flea, making sure that every patient gets the absolute best. But no, apparently compassion, understanding and damn hard work do not make a nurse. Harvard referencing and case studies, that's what gets you your colours.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for nurses being educated and intelligent, but this is going to far. I may not be able to put good nursing principles on paper, but I can certainly make a bed you can bounce a 50p coin off, and administrate injections at the drop of a hat.

But these days it's all about evidenced-based research. Well, here's my contribution to the research: essays are nonsense. I spend hours and hours using a thesaurus to try and find big words to put on paper so I come out looking intelligent. Why not have a conservation with me instead, ask me my opinion on patient-centered care, ask me any drug calculation you want, or even ask me to explain the new mental health act.

If a patient needs me to explain their medication, I can help. If I'm about to finish my shift, I will stay and explain it another way so i can go home knowing I gave 100%. This is not because I wrote an essay on it - it's because I believe in it and I was born to do it.

Thirteen-hour shifts, living on a bursary and working a part-time job, 3000-word essays due every two months, an ongoing portfolio of evidence... how could I not love being a student nurse?

Rant over.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Wow, my thoughts exactly.
    Im a second year paediatric nurse, and i feel that it all comes down passing essays, execellent referencing, use of paragraphs...what happened to use of care and empathy with patients.
    Does that not get taken into consideration any more?
    Now nursing is an all-graduate career, i feel that sadly, more emphasis will be placed on the academic side.

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  • i completly agree, there is so much presssure with having to prove we will be good nurses when we qualify but yet still it seems like the hard work, the situations the hardles everything we go through in clinical placments count for nothing

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  • well yeah, but thats the trend , exams over understanding.

    Why do you think A-level students are so valued .

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  • Very nicely put - I agree with you wholeheartedly. It would be good to have some input from the 'professionals' within the nursing educational, those, of course who have actually expereinced what many of us students are enduring.

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  • I think you all have some pertinant points, but as someone who qualified in 2000 I am fully aware of the marking criteria for academic work. especially as I have completed my BSc in advanced nursing and my MSc, now due to start a PhD in 2009. To have been thrown off the course a student must have failed the initial assignment with a mark below 40%, a second attempt can only be awarded 40% no matter what mark you actually attain. Nursing needs nurses who are academically sound and who posses excellent clinical skills, If we want to be seen as true professionals not just people with a vocation. Personally I think the 40% pass mark is too low!

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