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‘I felt I was far behind my peers’

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A talk with her tutor helped student nurse Laurie realise that every student nurse will develop one’s skills and confidence at one’s own pace

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Laurie Batchelor

As I walked into the huge lecture theatre on the first day, I looked around at all my new peers and lecturers and thought, “This is it, here I am, a student nurse!”  I couldn’t believe that all my hard work, nerve-wracking interviews and travelling up and down the country with my family looking for a place had finally paid off. 

The thought of fearfully reading an email from UCAS to say that there had been a status update seemed so far away now and I couldn’t begin to imagine what exciting adventures awaited me as the head of nursing welcomed and congratulated us all. 

I steadily worked through the ever-growing list of tasks and assignments to be done and practical skills to be learned in the first few months until I was just about to go on my first placement on a neurological rehabilitation ward. We had been provided with information regarding the basics of anatomy and physiology, BLS skills and how to record observations. 

I had never worked in care before but the thought of looking after people and making them feel as comfortable as possible gave me so much satisfaction that I couldn’t wait to start. However, it wasn’t until I had a meeting with my personal tutor that I realised how far behind my peers I felt. 

I explained that I had overheard some of the other students saying that they had “done it all before” and that these skills are “so basic”. This sent me into a panic and thoughts like “I must not be as capable” and “I haven’t had any care experience, so I won’t be able to pick up these skills as well” constantly ran through my head. It wasn’t until I sat, reflected and got a different perspective on the situation that I realised that we are all equal regardless of previous experience. 

The truth is we are all unique and this is something that should be embraced. When I thought about it, I realised my lectures are full of unique people and all of them have their own story and reasons for why they are studying nursing. There are people who have worked in care for years, people who have families of their own, people who have moved away from home and people like me who get confused between ‘brady’ and ‘tachy’, (it’s OK, I know the difference now!). 

We all are in different situations and come from different backgrounds but the point is, as my tutor told me, that within 6 months we would all be in a similar place and she was totally right.

Now, I sit here as a student who has been on placement, who has grown in confidence and someone who realises that she has learnt so much that she did not know 24 weeks ago. After believing that I was lagging behind my peers, I have not only caught up with them but have also hit the same level of ability as my peers. This means that we can progress and get through this together. 

We each have had very contrasting experiences whilst out in practice, which will stay with us as we progress towards our second year. But again, this is just a part of our unique and wonderful journey as student nurses.  

Although there is a set academic route to becoming a qualified nurse, there is not just one way to get there. You’ll develop your skills, your confidence, your ability to push yourself further than you ever thought you could, but at your own pace. So, if you’re thinking of applying or pushing towards graduation, take the plunge and keep going! 

Laurie Batchelor is currently in her first year studying adult nursing at Keele University 

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