First, I’d like to congratulate you on your position on one of the most rewarding courses in the world. Well done - all that hard work finally paid off.
As a third year adult nursing student and chairman of the nursing society at Sheffield Hallam, I feel like I can offer you some advice. University can offer a lot more than just education; make the most of the freshers’ week fair and join the nursing society. If there isn’t already a nursing society, why not show some initiative and start your own, like I did. Not only will it enhance your CV and help you develop a managerial skill set, you will also meet a tonne of new people.
One of the best tips given to me, by my mother, who is a matron, was to keep a drug diary. This is now something I live by. As a third year student, I still come across medication I have never heard of. The idea is to make a quick note of the drug’s name and then when you get home read about doses, side effects and interactions with other drugs. You can find all this information in the British National Formulary (often referred to as the BNF). In most hospitals I have worked at the pharmacy has had some surplus previous editions that they are willing to give to students. You just need to pop down and ask. Or, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a techie and have an iOS or Android device, you can download the NICE BNF app free of charge.
As a student, maybe living away from home for the first time, managing money is important. I personally use Excel to balance my account effectively. There are plenty of Excel templates online that will help you structure your incomes and outgoings. If Excel isn’t your style you can always use your smartphone, because yes ‘there’s an app for that’ and it’s called BUDGT.
If you ever become stuck or in any sort of trouble, you are surrounded by a network of people whose job it is to support you. Whether you are struggling with an assignment, don’t understand something in practice or are facing a problem not directly related to your studies, never be afraid to ask questions or for help. Your tutor, student support officer, mentor, ward manager and even peers will all be willing to help.
One thing I learnt from my first year as a student nurse was to never leave work to the last week. It can significantly affect the quality of your submission, as it’ll be rushed. Remember you’re at university now and you want to showcase the best of your work and show off what you can do.
Always be punctual, presentable and professional. These three Ps are the very basics of what is expected from a student nurse. They should always be at the top of your action plan, as without this basic skill set you will be undesirable for future employment.
Lastly, try to make as many friends as you can and don’t be afraid to talk to new people. As you may have heard before, you make your friends for life at university. You won’t regret your hard efforts in the first couple of weeks a year down the line when you’re in the library at night, energy drink in hand and a good bunch of friends by your side.
Ben Mullin is a third year student nurse at Sheffield Hallam University