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'I find myself sitting on a precipice'

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Student nurse Claire Axcell talks about what it’s like to be a student in her final year

A third-year student in her final semester, I find myself sitting on a precipice. Feet dangling down, swinging back and forth; occasionally pitching a rock into the abyss below me and admiring the view.

This feels like a funny old time, I feel terrified of what is to come, but also expectant and excited. I am really looking forward to not writing an essay for a while, to have nothing but my job to focus on, and to not have to think about my dissertation or university.

However, as a student, there is a little warm security blanket that surrounds us. While we are subject to professional standards and guidelines, essentially we are protected by our mentor and university.

We can go to them, and most of the time, we can ask for their help without feeling too much of a burden (there’s always that point where the hospital is busy and you just, can’t, ask).

We all have our favourite mentors and lecturers, the ones who we know we can go to with any problem, and know that even if they can’t magically make things disappear, they can ease the burden and lend us their shoulders.

I suppose at the moment, that the NHS feels like a scary place to be going into. In nursing we face the issue of chronic understaffing and recently it feels like all reports have been negative. Understaffing is an issue in midwifery as well, as is the ever-changing landscape that has been put into motion within the last few years.

In the next year, as a profession, we will see the standards for nursing education change, followed by midwifery standards. There is also the issue of the removal of the bursary and the consequences – the drop in applications we are now seeing.

“There is part of me that can’t imagine doing this, but at the same time, a bigger part is excited and wanting to make that step”

It feels like a very different arena that we as newly qualified professionals will be entering into, than the one we envisioned at the start of our degrees.

As to how this will come together over the course of our professional lives? I don’t know and I wish I had the answers. I wish I could say with certainty how changes in status and statutes will affect our professional scope and practice.

It feels like a scary prospect to be honest – it really is the unknown. I recently applied for my first professional job as a midwife, and I must admit that this scared me more than the UCAS process ever did.

Suddenly it’s real; suddenly all that I’ve been training for is coming to a head – and in no time at all. I will step out of a changing room in a set of blue scrubs with the word ‘registered midwife’ on my name badge.

There is part of me that can’t imagine doing this, but at the same time, a bigger part of me is excited and wanting to make that step.

I’m hopeful that this semester, things will come together, and that instead of staring out into the abyss, I’ll simply stand up, turn around and take that tiny final step up to the summit of that mountain I’ve been climbing for the past three years.

I’m going to ignore the bigger mountain that’s stood in front of me for the moment.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Claire,

    Imagine your first delivery!
    You will always remember your very first one as a registered midwife and it will be brilliant!

    You will be a wonderful midwife.

    PDave Angel

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