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7 things you should do before starting your nurse training


After the excitement of being offered a place on a nursing course has died down, you may be left wondering ‘What do I do now?’ Well, here’s your answer.

1.   Sort out your finances

Put simply: you cannot save enough. We constantly hear from student nurses who have been shocked by how quickly their money has disappeared. It’s a full-time course so the option of part-time work may not be open to you. Get saving and get applying for everything you’re entitled to:


2.   Decide where to live

Do you want to live in halls of residence? Is it cheaper to live with parents and commute to uni? Is there an option of living with friends from the word go?

If you know you’re going to be moving to attend your course, then you need to make these decisions – the longer you leave it the fewer options you’ll have.

  • Use your university’s website to find out about applying to live in halls.
  • and are good places to start if you’re looking to rent a room in a shared house.
  • Have a look at our tips for moving away from home:

- The first time: living on your own

- What to do when you’re missing home

- What to do when you’re not getting on with your housemates


3.   Go shopping

Those of you with a good memory will recall that we just told you to stop spending and start saving! But there are some purchases that are well worth the investment.

We asked the student nurse Twitter community what one item all student nurses should buy before starting their course and 90% answered ‘comfy shoes’. Splash out on a decent pair of shoes and your feet will thank you for the next three years.

Most of the textbooks you’ll need during your course will be available to borrow from the library but if you’re looking to buy, these books come highly recommended by our readers:

  • The Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures - Student Edition
  • Ross and Wilson - Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness
  • Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain
  • The Oxford Medical Handbook series
  • Bad Science

Don’t forget to have a flick through our book reviewsbefore you part with your money!


4.   Subscribe to student nursing times

Yes, we know, it’s predictable that we’d include this. But, while you’re preparing for your course, and after you’ve started it, the support of your peers is essential. Your subscription will give you access to our constantly updated blogs from other student nurses, our agony aunt feature, all the NT learning units – not to mention FULL access to the Nursing Times peer-reviewed archive.

Pretty good for 65p a week!


5.   Set up a Twitter account

Twitter might not seem very ‘nursey’ but using it was advocated by the Chief Nursing Officer for England, Jane Cummings, in her keynote speech at the 2013 CNO Summit.

Twitter gives you instant access to thousands of peers, other student nurses and qualified nurses as well as countless other healthcare professionals. A few years ago, if you were struggling to remember your tibia from your fibula, you only had those immediately around you to ask for advice. Now, with a quick tweet you can ask thousands of healthcare professionals for the answer.

And who should your first follow be? @StudentNT of course!


6.   Find out more

The world of nursing, and the NHS, are going through some huge changes at the moment and the career you are about to start training for may have changed when you qualify. It’s important to understand what’s happening so you can make choices that are right for you.

Keep up with the latest nursing news at:


7.   Get some experience

If you’ve been accepted on to a nursing course then you probably already have some healthcare experience. But the more time you spend in a healthcare environment, the more prepared you’ll be to start your training.

The added bonus is that working alongside nurses will help you to better understand the role and give you the chance to make an informed decision about whether nursing really is your calling.

Many nurses start their career as a healthcare assistant – have a look at NT Jobs to see if there are any positions available in your area.

Or, you may prefer to volunteer to give you greater freedom over how you gain valuable experience. There’s no shortage of volunteer roles available, The Red Cross is a good place to start and a quick search on Google will reveal all sorts of opportunities.


The next three years are going to be over in a flash. You’re going to experience highs and lows. You’ll hate it and you’ll love it and we want to hear all about it. Join our weekly student nursing Twitchats using the hashtag #SNTtwitchat every Friday at 1pm and let us know how you get on.


How are you preparing to start your course? Let us know in the comments section below



Readers' comments (5)

  • Keir Robertson

    I've applied to study 2 courses that lead to degrees in nursing so this article (and website in general) was very useful. Can't wait to start the courses if I'm successful and I'll be sure to keep an eye on this site, thanks. :)

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  • I may be getting older having nursed for 35 years, but when I trained we had a tibia and FIBULA. Has that changed in recent years?

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  • I am so excited as I have just been made an offer to start a Nursing program. Initially, I was worried until I read the stories from other students and I feel quite comfortable. I will recommend any would be student Nurse to always read these articles as they are quite educative and useful

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  • kizz

    Hi I aim to apply at Leeds met for adult nursing as a mature student, finding it really difficult to get the required amount of clinical experience, voluntary work isn't an option.. help/advice please.

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  • both a fibula and tibia exist, the bones in the lower leg, the tibia is the larger one out of the two.

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