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‘As a student nurse, I'm not sure what I should be competing for'

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With the competition for places on nursing courses getting more and more fierce, Ruth asks: is nursing becoming too competitive?

I can’t believe it’s only been a year since I was offered a place on an adult nursing course. So much has happened since then: I’ve moved closer to university, left my job, started my course, learnt to budget, got another part-time job and even completed my first placement on a general medical ward!

I hardly recognise myself as that nervous interviewee standing in the university corridor awaiting my fate. It feels surreal to now see other potential candidates stood in the same corridor anxiously waiting their nursing interviews. I wonder if they realise just how competitive it can be to get a place on a nursing course, even with relevant experience and education.

At my university alone, there were around 2,700 candidates applying for approximately 100 places - that’s less than a 4% success rate and makes me feel very privileged to have been given a chance. I’m proud to have the N-factor!

Knowing how valuable nursing places are made me even more determined, which reaffirmed how much I wanted to become a nurse.

Training a student nurse is a huge investment for HEIs and the NHS and I appreciate the need for a robust set of criteria for candidates, but I do wonder if nursing has become too competitive, particularly in light of reports of an upcoming shortfall of nurses. I worry that when I qualify I will struggle to deliver the care I know I can provide simply because of unmanageable workloads and staffing levels.

Since last September, I have been regularly reminded that the next three years as a student nurse will not only teach me the science and the clinical skills needed for practice but will be the longest interview process I will ever go through. What a very scary thought! I understand why this is; I have to make the transition from IT employee to student nurse, and then to staff nurse with a code of conduct to adhere to and with very specific competencies to achieve.

My concern is that, to me, “interview” also implies competition.

It is hard enough for me to accept that once I become a registered nurse I will have to compete for what feels like an ever-shrinking pool of jobs, but as a student nurse I’m not sure what I should be competing for.

I absolutely want to do the best I can and become a confident, competent professional with the compassionate, kind, understanding and caring outlook that I hope all nurses have, but I also want my fellow students to do the same.

I want us to be part of the same team so that when we are all ready to go out into practice we have the skills and attitude to work as a unit with common goals. We need good team work and mutual understanding to be able to meet the challenges of providing high-quality care in increasingly complex circumstances.

Ruth Perez-Merino is in her first year studying adult nursing (degree) at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I think that it's only a good thing that nursing courses are competitive. The way things are going, it's only to become even more so. NHS trusts & HEIs are going to be under more pressure to make they are recruiting candidates suitable for the job and by no means is that a bad thing. For me being the best nurse I can me doesn't have anything to do with competing to make sure I get a job, it's about doing something I feel really passionate about.

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