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‘I’m meant to start my nurse training in September but I don’t think I can do it’


Can you advise this student nurse?

“I couldn’t believe it when I was offered a place at my first choice university to study nursing this September. But all of a sudden I’ve been hit by a massive fear that I’m doing the wrong thing.

“I’ve never lived in a city and have no idea what to expect from living in halls, but my biggest fear is the course itself.

“What if my placements expect me to already know what I’m doing? I’ve heard student nurses have to work non-stop to keep up with the workload and I’m worried I’m not clever enough – I’m used to getting Cs (Bs if I’m lucky). I have subscribed to Nursing Times which has been really helpful but I feel like the more I read and think about it, the more anxious I get.

“I’m on the verge of cancelling my place, I know I’ll regret it but I just don’t think I can do it.”

-Emily, Peterborough


Please use the comments section below to share your advice


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Readers' comments (5)

  • As a student nurse myself I understand why you are feeling so fearful of what lies ahead. I am not going to lie to you it is tough, but well worth it. I am on my second placement at the moment and I have not been expected to know everything, you are there to learn and enjoy it. There is a lot of work to do; however, you do not have to work non-stop. It is very important to take time out for yourself, and gain a good work-life balance. As far as marks go I have done better on this course than I did at school, college and previous universities. This is probably because it means so much to me. Getting accepted means that you are already passionate about the career you are about to undertake, and I am confident you will put the effort in and be successful. Embrace the next three years and get as much out of it as you can. Keep telling yourself 'I can do it'.

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  • Hello Emily, Mentors do not expect you to know everything, the pourpose of the placemnets are that you're TRAINING to be a nurse so no you won't know evrything but you will learn hoop loads along the way. A bit like you i feared i haven't learnt anything (end of my course now) and always worried about getting things wrong but now i realise sometimes things may need to go wrong in order for you to learn how it could have been done differently (reflection) i.e. i'm not very good in interviewing in assessmnets but have got much better by involving myself as much as possible and bringing myself out of my comfort zone.

    do not put you're self down in terms of achievements, you will be amazed by how well you can do when you believe in yourself.

    Get in touch with you're student support officer they will be able to help you and direct you to the right people for support.

    I was told you get out what you put in so don't be scared be confident! challenge yourself and be amazed by what you will be able to achieve..

    You will be fine :)

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  • I experienced the exact same feelings as you before I started my nursing course! I am now at the end of my first year and I love it. It can be hard at times but believe me, it pays off. You are definitely not expected to know everything on your first placement, you're there to learn and the staff are there to help and support you. Don't be afraid to be confident or to make mistakes, that is all part of learning and you need to make mistakes in order to learn and improve.

    I understand your feelings of uncertainty about moving into student halls. I was really apprehensive and wasn't sure if I was ready to move away from home. However, I would strong recommend it now! It's a great opportunity to meet new friends and become independent.

    Don't give up - if you're willing to work hard then you can do it! Good luck and enjoy it! :)

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  • Emily,

    I'd be surprised if I heard a student nurse say that they didn't feel something similar to you before starting their course. I know I did. It's perfectly normal, but think of it this way. Not only did you have to apply to the university the same way as everyone who attends university, but for this course you also had to be interviewed. If you look at the amount of people who applied to be in your position, and then at the amount of people who were offered a place you should see that you're exactly where you're meant to be. If you weren't good enough and if you couldn't do it, the interviewers would have spotted this, and you wouldn't be in the position you are. Honestly.

    Take my word for it along with the other student nurses that have commented on your post, when you go onto placement the staff will ask you what stage you are at on your course if they don't already know. They will more than likely have had many students in their service before, they know how to work with you. They know your limitations and what they should expect from you and what they shouldn't. But having said that, believe me, after your theory you'll go onto placement and yes at first everything will be new and I won't lie it will probably feel very daunting, but once you find your feet everything you've learned over the previous months starts to make sense. When my cohort first started our course the lecturers told us this, that once we started placement the theory would make sense and we brushed it off, but it couldn't be more true.

    Being a student nurse isn't easy, but it is worth it. As for the academic side of things i.e. the assignments and exams, I felt the same as you, I did well in college and in school but I was aware of the increase in difficulty of work when you start university and this worried me. But I am yet to fail an assignment or exam. Maybe I will fail at come point, but it's all about learning. If I fail or if you fail an exam or assignment, you reflect on it and work out where you can improve and what lessons you can take forward to the next assignment/exam with you.

    Don't cancel your place, you may feeling scared or worried that you're doing the wrong thing, but is it not the sensible thing to do to at least try it first? Picture yourself in 3 years time, the people you would have been graduating with. How do you feel? Nursing may not be right for you, but how can you possibly know until you've tried it? At least then if you decide it's not right you can hold your hands up and say that you know for sure. Is that not better than the what-if's you might be left with if you quit now?

    Good Luck

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  • Do not cancel your place! Not yet. Believe me, we have all had these thoughts. I worked so hard to get a place at university and felt exactly the same as you did. But the support network you will receive will be unbelievable. And trust me, your placements WILL NOT expect you to know everything. Keep what you're doing by reading nursing times articles and teaching yourself before you start. I came on to this degree after working in pubs for 6 years, so I couldn't have been less prepared. But I brought every new issue of NT, did as much research about nursing and nursing issues as possible and it really helps. It is totally natural to feel this way, you are not alone. But believe me when I say it will be the best thing you've ever done. It WILL be frustrating, and at times it will be hard work, but it's nothing you won't be able to do if you really put your heart and mind in to it. I have cried many times in my first year, but the fantastic amounts of fun I have had, as well as the new friends I've met - not just at uni, but the staff from placements too, has really made it worth it. Give it a month first. Then 3 months. Then when you're in your 6th month you'll wonder why you ever worried. You can do this!! x

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