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'I didn’t know what to expect'

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I didn’t know what to expect. I felt nervous and excited at the prospect of starting my new career. After attending the open days and surviving the interview process, I was finally at university.

I remember going into the lecture theatre and looking round at so many new faces. The lecture theatre was really big as there were approximately one hundred people in our cohort.

I can remember looking round and seeing people from all ages, races and religions, which highlighted how diverse nursing is. It draws people from all walks of life, which proved that anyone can pursue their goals if they choose to and reassured me. As a mature student with a young family I wasn’t on my own and knew that other students would be facing the same challenges.

Some are school and college leavers and some juggle work and families, but all have the same goal - becoming a staff nurse, so there is always common ground for small talk!

My approach to university life is to be organised, always attend lectures and ask lots of questions.

To do this I look at the brief for the lecture on the timetable and try and read up about the subject, making relevant notes to help in class.

I try to share my point of view, give relevant input to the lectures, and interact with the discussions - after all if you don’t partake how can you get the full benefit of a lecture? I found this also helped with my confidence, as nursing stretches the boundaries of communication as we are constantly put in new situations. We are challenged by colleagues and patients and obviously have a duty to the NMC.

As we all know, every person has strengths and weaknesses. I think it is important to remember that we need to identify these as students and look at ways to address them so that we are prepared and don’t consequently put any extra stress on ourselves. If you know drug calculations are a worry then spend time practicing them; if you know that organisation and time management might be a problem, plan ahead.

The nursing course is demanding; practical sessions, lectures and placements run alongside exams and assignments. You will always have plenty of notice when the latter are due in so don’t put yourself under added pressure of cramming it all in at the last minute.

There is always someone to help if you do find you are having problems however, such as your personal tutor, group leader or fellow students.

If I can give any advice from my first year at university it is to enjoy it, as it goes so fast! Enjoy the experiences and new challenges. And remember some areas of nursing may not be for you. That is the beauty of nursing - it is so varied and patient groups are vastly different. Keep an open mind and be sure to embrace all of your learning experiences.

Nicola Pountney is a second year Adult Nursing student at the University of Wolverhampton.

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