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STUDENT BLOG

Comment: 'Are student nurses ashamed of academia?'

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When I get asked what I want to do when I qualify I frequently get strange looks as I give my answer - “research”

I’m one of a few student nurses who cannot read enough, actively enjoys writing assignments and counts the days until I qualify with trepidation as it may mean I can no longer do those things as often.

I’m aware this makes me quite an unpopular candidate; after all, many struggle with the theory side of a nursing degree - and no wonder with such demands on our time.

“I’ve seen how nurses employ evidence as part of their decision-making process to actively help patients”

I should explain.

I am a 27-year old married student who has done nothing more academic in years than read Suzanne Collins, Patricia Cornwell and similar. I don’t consider myself to be an academic person but since starting the degree I’ve found the more I learn, the more I want to keep learning.

”Is there a tradition amongst nurses that academia is not becoming of a nurse?”

I’ve seen how nurses employ evidence as part of their decision-making process to actively help patients. One nurse, who had recently read in a journal how delirium in older patients could be mistaken for dementia, insisted on medical causes being ruled out for a patient with Alzheimer’s who was hallucinating; and she was right - the patient had an untreated UTI.

Then why do I feel the need to apologise when I say I enjoy research? I’m not the only one - a few of my peers will also quietly say “I quite liked writing that assignment” then give a furtive glance around to make sure no-one overheard. Is there a tradition amongst nurses that academia is not becoming of a nurse? Does it somehow compromise your ability to care? I don’t think so. I read so I can know that I’m delivering the best care I can to patients, not because of tradition.

“Literature searches are intimidating for some and time demands are making it difficult for even the most basic of care to be delivered in some areas”

Nurses have a duty to ensure their practice is up-to-date: easier said than done with the ever-changing paradigm of what is considered good or poor evidence. Literature searches are intimidating for some and time demands are making it difficult for even the most basic of care to be delivered in some areas. Student nurse’s can be a vital tool in imparting new information on to their registered counterparts. Learning can go both ways.

Perhaps the answer could be from the beginning, at the cradle, nursing students embracing the theory side of a degree and acknowledging the relevance of it as being as of much importance as the clinical side.

Kat Barber is a current student nurse.

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