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'As a student nurse, the future looks daunting'


This year has undeniably been a big year in healthcare, and as a student I can’t say I’m not worried about what awaits me when I qualify.

Rachael Starkey Student Nursing Times editor

Rachael Starkey is Student Nursing Times’s Child Branch Editor

We’ve had scandals, reviews and reforms and watching them unfold has at times felt like watching my future disappear beneath my feet.

No-one can claim that this course is easy but I work hard because I want to care for sick children and their families, because I believe in the NHS and because I want to spend the rest of my working life providing care to those who need it.

But the news that over 4,000 nurses have lost their jobs since the coalition came into power makes me question if there will even be a job for me at the end of the three years. The latest round of reforms mean our government no longer has a “duty to provide” comprehensive national health services and I can’t help but be concerned that even if myself and my peers get a job at all, it won’t be in the system that we are passionate about working for.

My fears are often reflected by nurses I work with on placement. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked why on earth I’m doing all this when there won’t be any jobs at the end anyway. They tell me that even if I do get a job, it won’t pay me enough to live and I probably won’t be retiring until I’m 105 years old.

They’re joking of course, trying to make light of the situation they find themselves in, but it’s a sharp kind of joke - the type that carries some truth.

The way they see it, they are already in competition with each other for an ever-dwindling number of positions. Annual influxes of newly-qualified, bright-eyed young things full of knowledge and enthusiasm is not what they want. Morale is low, times are tight and everyone seems to feel like they are in a battle.

I also can’t help but look around at my classmates, the people I’ve spent the last year and a half supporting and being supported by. Surely we’ll be applying for the same positions when we qualify? Are these friends potentially future enemies? Should I share that great resource I found for my essay or keep it to myself in the hope I get better marks than them… will that get me the job?

Of course this is not the way I want to think, and I fiercely believe that we should all be supporting each other along this road towards our pins, but it sneaks in there sometimes, unannounced, hiding under my fears for my future. 

I’m genuinely worried that the life I thought I was throwing myself into won’t be there when I qualify and it scares me because I don’t know what will be in its place.


Rachael Starkey is Student Nursing Times’s Child Branch Editor


Readers' comments (5)

  • I totally hear what you are saying I am a second year and times are indeed scary but I am living in hope that things will improve and hope by supporting those fighting unnecessary and unwise changes and support ing those making positive ones we can make a difference x

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  • You are an intelligent and articulate young lady and I am sure there will be a post for you on qualifying. Please try to stay positive. Just before qualifying 5 years ago our cohort was told, at the 'preparing for employment' day that there were in fact no jobs. But we all did find jobs eventually. You are young and mobile and the world will be your oyster. For the stories of lost nurses, there are others of recruiting as the folly of Mid Staffs and other sad cases hit home. Safe nursing standards are being discussed (again) and natural wastage from retirement etc causes need. Keep up with your obvious enthusiasm to succeed in your chosen profession, and good luck!

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  • You will get a job but you must try and keep a positive attitude and try to support others. I think that the current training has taken away the old support systems that students had as we worked ,studied and lived together and this has helped to damage the notion of teamwork in the NHS.

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  • I qualified 7 years ago, had almost got a job with the nhs ( interview, occy health, CRB ,and references all done) only to be told just as I graduated that I, and about 30 other students in the same position, that the job could not be offered after all!!! we were all devastated to say the least one of the girls went back to tesco to work as she had before the training. I was very lucky to get a job in the private sector where I have been ever since and would not want to work for the nhs , being a small cog in a big wheel!
    I am sure though that you will get a job If you have any contacts within the profession make sure you follow them up as I think sometimes its who you know......

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  • Please stay positive because nursing, and pediatric nursing, needs you and your fellow students. I trained as a RGN and RSCN in the NHS in the 80's. Since then I have worked in London, Ireland and Canada. Nursing is a rewarding career and I manage to support two children and myself, I will never be rich but such is life. Yes the job hunting is daunting, especially in times of recession, so ask for help with your CV and interview and networking skills. There are many amazingly interesting avenues within nursing and I think this is what makes nursing so exciting.

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