“What? You have to enter yourself? I couldn’t do that?”
That was the response I received from one student last week while visiting a university to tell them about the new Student Nursing Times Awards. Somehow pushing yourself forward, claiming to be the best at what you do doesn’t seem to be, well, very nursey.
But it absolutely is. There are several reasons why you should enter the Student Nursing Times Awards, why it’s good for your career and good for the profession to do it. Here are just five…
1. Saying “I am good at this” will land you your first job
Getting a job is tough – that is what we keep hearing. And there are lots of other student nurses who will be applying for the post you want. You won’t get offered your first job by expecting other people to notice what you’re good at – especially if they don’t know you and have never worked with you. They are busy people – you will have to tell them. Becoming adept at telling people why you are the ideal candidate for their role (or the person who should win this award) is a life and career skill. Of course it won’t come naturally, but the more you do it, the better you will get. So practise, practise, practise. Look at the job specification or awards criteria and pull out key bits of your experience and knowledge to show how you fit the bill – perfectly. This is no time to hide your light under a bushel. For more on this, see our piece on writing the most effective personal statement (see url)
2. Getting shortlisted or winning is brilliant for your CV
So rehearsing how you are suited for the job or award is worthwhile, but it’s not just about going through the motions. If you are shortlisted for the award or win it, it will look fantastic on your CV. How much better will you look than all the other candidates when you tell them the great and the good from Nursing Times’s judging panel has deemed you the cream of the cream in terms of your clinical knowledge, caring talents and nursing expertise in a national award? It’s more than impressive – and will certainly make any potential employer sit up and take notice.
3. All awards are self-entry
When you have qualified and you and your team decide to enter the Nursing Times Awards, Patient Safety Awards or Care Integration Awards, you’ll find they are all self-entry. You’ll have to put forward your reasons for why your project deserves the award. Getting used to filling in the form, thinking critically about your performance and measuring your goals are all going to be useful grounding for that day when your boss comes to you and asks you to apply for a Nursing Times Award or some other form of award. Trust us, you’ll be glad you’ve already had a go at it when that day comes.
4. It’s useful self-analysis
The very process of monitoring and measuring your performance is useful to your development. It’s a bit like reflective practice – how well did you do this? What have you learnt from this placement? Which areas of nursing have you found most challenging or enjoyable? It’s a real luxury to be able to think back over your time as a student and consider your time in training. Taking the time out to do this will help you make the right decisions for your career, such as choosing the right job and planning future training needs. And identifying your strengths is an ego boost for you as you start to apply for jobs. Repeating the things about yourself and your nursing skills that are positive will reinforce your self belief and really help with your confidence as you head off on the interview trail.
5. Nurses should stand up and say they are great
Every profession applies for awards to tell the world they are great at what they do – jewellers, engineers, doctors, beauty therapists and PR executives – they are all unashamed about putting themselves forward, so why should you be? The profession wants the healthcare world and the public to trust them and take them seriously – and that involves standing up and making people take notice. Learn to play the political game early. If in later life you need to make a business case for keeping your service or introducing another having the strength and skill to say “I am good at…” will stand you in good stead. So stop thinking that it’s unthinkable, and apply for your first award today at www.studentnursingtimesawards.co.uk