With a huge shortage of nurses in the not so distant future, should nursing education not be looking at how to attract more students onto the course?
I’m writing this from London, where I’m in the middle of my dream elective placement: a week in picu and a week at Great Ormond Street.
I’m so excited about what I’m learning over these two weeks; it couldn’t be more different to the general children’s nursing that makes up the majority of my training, but I can’t help myself wishing hard for the end.
Because once these two weeks are over, I’ll have finished year two of my training! It’s been a tough year, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for how hard it was going to be.
It has felt like a constant whirlwind of placement, work, essays, more work and exams- an unrelenting level of stress that never seemed to subside, there were never enough hours to do the reading I needed to do, and I’m hoping against hope that next year isn’t quite so tough.
Most third years that I meet tell me that second year is the worst, the most stressful, and hopefully they are right (if they’re not, please don’t tell me until after my holidays!).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy. I love what I do and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked this year and how well I’m doing. But does it really need to be so tough to become a nurse? I shouldn’t be wishing it away surely.
Some argue that the only ones who stick it out are those who really really want to, but I’m not convinced that’s the greatest recruitment technique. With a huge shortage of nurses in the not so distant future, should nursing education not be looking at how to attract more students onto the course?
There are several recent and upcoming reviews into pre-reg education, but none of them look at improving quality of life for students and allowing us to concentrate on learning all we need to.
Simple things like making sure our bursaries come through on time (or at all), our placement expenses get returned quickly (WHY, in 2014, do we have to post our expenses out?!? Why there is not an instant online system is beyond me), and maybe even arranging the year so that those with children are not on placement during school holidays. These little things would make so much difference to a lot of student nurses.
It would mean that we don’t have to work three jobs and write essays at night.
Or even just that we’re a bit less stressed and not waiting to hop on a flight to Australia as soon as we qualify.
As I keep arguing, nobody does this course just for fun, or because they don’t know what else to do.
Yes we care, and this training will ensure we’re good nurses, but keep making it so tough and people just won’t want to do it.
There won’t be the students we need to plug the predicted shortfall in nurses, and those who do qualify won’t want to stay. It’s no good just looking into how to make pre-reg education better, they need to look at how to make it more attractive to potential nurses, those who look at the finances now and know they can’t afford to do it. Or those who go to an open day and get told that they will be on 13 hour shifts during every single one of their child’s half term holidays.
Good nurses come from good training, but what do we get from intense, chaotic, stressful training? Exactly.
Maybe someone could talk to us about what would improve our education. But I suppose that is too much to ask…
Rachael Starkey is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for Child Branch