I am currently studying the district nursing specialist practitioner qualification (DNSPQ) at university. This has proved challenging at times as I trained over 30 years ago and I am the most mature student in the class by quite a few years
I also trained in the days of hospital-based training, so although I’ve completed some university modules I have never undertaken a full degree course before.
I was really struggling with the assignment set for the research module, and at times, felt like a child in school again trying to understand algebra. I never did get the hang of that either, but I digress.
I began to wonder why on earth I was doing this assignment and even the course itself. After all, I was already working in the community and have been doing so for many years without the DNSPQ, but it was something I have always wanted to do and I had made a commitment to undertake the course.
Fortunately, I had joined a closed group on Facebook for current DNSPQ students nationwide. I am familiar with Facebook, but to be honest, it’s the only form of social media that I use as I’m not renowned for my skills with technology – although I managed to make a spread sheet the other day but that’s a different story.
I posted on the DNSPQ Facebook group to ask for any tips or suggestions as to where I could gain more information to help me with my assignment. The response was amazing, colleagues were incredibly supportive posting articles and book titles.
I even received two phone calls via messenger, from nurses in different parts of the country, offering me advice and support as they had just completed their research assignments and they too had struggled with them.
“It made me realise just how their help and support had changed my mindset”
The phone calls and the posts made me appreciate that as a nurse, you are never alone. There is always a kindred spirit who will help you, advise you or just listen to you.
I didn’t know these nurses who phoned me, but we instantly struck up a conversation and ended up just talking about our practice and nursing experiences in general. We were complete strangers but there was so much to talk about and so many similar experiences throughout our nursing careers.
When I reflected upon this, it made me realise just how their help and support had changed my mindset from feeling negative about the assignment and doubting my capabilities of being able to complete it, to feeling uplifted and smiling again.
This was not because someone had given me the answers or told me how to write, but because colleagues had taken the time to help me – a complete stranger who shares their passion for (and who is part of) their profession.
The intricacies of social media continue to baffle me, but it is with heartfelt thanks to my fellow Facebook nurses that I was able to complete my assignment and I felt delighted that one small message placed had elicited such a gratefully received response.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is so important for anyone struggling with their studies – whether they are students or trained nurses – to be aware that help is always available, and they just need to ask.
Nurses are such a caring, supportive group of people and someone will always help. It may be someone you know, or it may be a complete stranger on a Facebook group who just understands that we cannot know all the answers but will support them to find out.