Nine shifts to go, that’s it. In nine shifts’ time I will have finished my student nurse training and I will shortly start my first job as a newly qualified nurse on a neonatal department.
Where have the past three years gone? Everyone says it will go quickly but you don’t really believe them – well at least I didn’t. I felt like I would be a student forever, which would have been nice, except I am looking forward to getting paid now.
I’ve put blood, sweat and tears into getting this far, but looking back now, I can see how it was worth it in the end. For me, the ups and downs of the past three years begin to fade away as I start to look forward to a new adventure. But for all the students still going – keep going, you will get there.
So here are 10 things I learnt on this journey we call a nursing degree.
You have to take care of yourself
This degree will push you to your limits in every way, emotionally, physically, financially, so you must make time for yourself and learn not to feel guilty about that. Remember, a well-rested nurse will care for patients a lot better than a nurse who is constantly stressed out.
Perseverance is key
Over the years you will have many challenges, academically and while out on placement. But just focus on what is to come next and don’t get ahead of yourself. There’s no point worrying about an assignment due in next year when you’ve got things going on now.
You will never know everything
The joy of nursing is that there is always more to learn and discover, as new research constantly changes the way we practice, and you must accept that. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to learn, just aim to learn a bit more than the day before. Even those who have been nursing for 30 years or more don’t know everything.
Your friends will help you through
The friends you meet on your course will be the only ones who truly understand the pressures you are under. Learn to make time for these people and pick each other up when one of you is having a down day, because we’ll all have those days at one point or another.
The theory part is just as important as practice
We all know the theory side of nursing can be a little heavy at times and who hasn’t wanted to fall asleep in the odd lecture? But this is a job where our theory knowledge must be as good as our practical. Pay attention in class, do your work and learn more in your own time. You won’t regret it.
Learn how to get on with people, even those you don’t like
As a nurse you will have to work with so many other professionals, patients and families. You won’t get along with everyone and this is normal, however, you have to remain professional at all times and learn to put your differences aside. Be polite and smile and you’ll get through.
Take as many opportunities as you can
Embrace every opportunity that comes your way, even if it only seems like something small. I was lucky enough to be chosen for a children’s charity trip to Florida and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my degree. Take the leap because you never know.
One thing nursing does, I think, is make you realise how grateful you are and how precious your health is. When we are well we so often take our health for granted, but being in this environment makes me appreciate what I have so much more.
Change is inevitable
Another exciting part of nursing is the variety, whether it’s the area you work in, the patients you treat or the people you work with. Just keep in mind that change can be a good thing and embrace it and learn from it.
Lastly, but most importantly, try to enjoy every minute as much as possible. You will never experience this time again, so try to make lots of happy memories to look back on and make the most of your time off while you can.
Louisa Davies is a final-year MSc child nursing student at Edge Hill University