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What to expect as a mature student nurse

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Starting a nursing course as a mature student can be daunting, but Dominic insists you’re not alone.

If you are in the more…ahem… mature age bracket of students, I would like you to look around you on your first day. You may be expecting your fellow students to be full of youthful verve and vitality, but if you look closer you will notice that you are far from the only mature student there. In fact, there will be quite a lot of you.

Nursing courses often attract students with life experience.

Having been out of education for nine years before starting nursing, I couldn’t help but wonder if my brain still had what it takes to function in a learning environment. Admittedly, it was a bit slow at first as the cogs started to turn again but I was amazed at how quickly I got into gear again. I had to re-learn how to write academic essays and research literature, which was a bit of a struggle, but now I am pleased with the marks I get.

There have been times when juggling student life with family life has been hard, especially during placements. I am fortunate enough to have a partner who works full time, a supportive family and a good nursery for my toddler to go to, but some students cope with far less. I realise there are single parents among you who will find it harder than I have to make sure there is enough money for food, clothing and childcare while you are studying. It will be hard, but not impossible, I know many single parents who are doing well on the course and managing these added stressors effectively.

If you ever find yourself in trouble, talk to your university - they often have ways to help students that you may not have even thought of.

A couple of general tips:

Lectures: don’t miss them. You are required to complete a certain amount of theory hours by the NMC in order to go on to the register. Miss too many theory hours and you will need to be make them up, usually during your reading weeks or holidays.

Placements: If you treat your placements like a job, you can’t go far wrong. Turn up on time and phone in if you’re sick or can’t make it for any reason. You are supernumerary as a student, but if you help out and make yourself useful, this won’t be overlooked.

Lastly I would like to wish you all luck as you start your nursing career. It will never stop challenging or surprising you but the sense of achievement and wellbeing that comes from knowing you’ve helped someone when they most need it cannot be topped.


Dominic Worsfold is a third year mental health nursing student.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Hi Dominic,

    Great article. I am looking at returning to nursing as a student. I started 11 years ago, got to my final year but had to withdraw due to pre-eclampsia; the desire to do it has never left me. I contacted my old tutor who told me that I would need to start again! I was doing the diploma but it is now degree level. Of course my greatest worry is that at 43 I will be seen as too old.
    Do you think I am too old to do it again? Would appreciated your views. Jayne

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