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How do you prepare to start a nursing course?


In the build-up to his nurse training, Andrew wants to get a good idea of what the course will entail. Can you help?

Andrew OConnell_SNT

Andrew O’Connell starts his nurse training in September 2014

When I was 8, I joined my local scout troop but to be completely truthful I wasn’t a particularly good scout.

Firstly, unless it’s a shoelace, I’m utterly useless with knots.

Secondly, to see me trying to put up a tent would be like watching me service a car: as pitiful as it is amusing and just as likely to end in disaster or injury.

But the one thing I’ve always liked, and has stuck with me, is the motto “Always be prepared”. In the final run-up to starting my nursing course in September, this is something I’m trying to achieve.

Without any ‘real’ knowledge of the course content or curriculum it’s hard to know exactly how to do this. This unknowing void that I’m fast approaching is a little daunting and the cause of some anxiety as I really don’t want to fail.

I have my biology and bio-chemistry notes and books from my access course, which is of course a good start, but beyond that I’m a little clueless.

“I really don’t want to fail”

Student Nursing Times has already come up with 7 ideas that cover the basics. I’ve checked off 4, and as soon as I get some shoes bought that’ll be 5. However, I’m really looking for something related to the clinical skills we’ll be learning such as knowledge of medication, physiology and anatomy, clinical assessment, basic procedures and recording observations.

So, I figured I should be proactive and do my own research and this is part of it.

Dear Reader, whether you’re a current student, newly qualified or an experienced nurse, please tell me your top tips for first year preparation. Is there reading you’d recommend or websites that can help with getting to grips with the basics? Alternatively, is it a fool’s errand being driven by unchecked rumination?

Answers on a proverbial postcard please…or just in the comments!


Andrew O’Connell is due to start a course in Children’s Nursing at Hertfordshire University in September 2014


Readers' comments (3)

  • Hi Andrew. Apologies if this is not appropriate, but we at Lantern Publishing have an introductory book titled Handbook for Student Nurses. It's issues-based rather than clinical in content, but we'd love to know what you think of it. If you'd like to email me at I'll arrange to send you a copy, free of charge in return for some comments (good or bad).

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  • In my first year clinical skills involved source isolation, hygiene needs, nutritional needs, moving and handling, basic life support, observations and injection technique.

    Have you bought the Royal Marsden Clinical Skills Handbook? It runs through loads of different procedures but it's not essential.

    In short, I'd say it's hard to prepare until you get there.

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  • For Children's Nursing I would definitely recommend the Great Ormond Street Manual of Children's Nursing Procedures.

    For medication, I would recommend the online BNF for children.

    Hope this helps!

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