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'Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed?'


Student editor, Lucy, talks us through her third year “crisis of confidence” 

I am overwhelmed. There. I’ve said it.

I am in bed, in my pyjamas, and I do not want to move. Please don’t judge me too harshly: I’ve just finished my third night shift so I’m allowed to be in bed at 2.15pm on a Thursday, aren’t I?

So far, 2017 has been testing and we are only four weeks in. I have had quite a lot to juggle so far including a poorly child, a week crammed with exams and assignment deadlines, an emotionally demanding placement and all the usually stresses of January including weight gain, no money and a snotty nose.

I keep thinking about what it is that is making me feel so overwhelmed and while there’s plenty going on in my life that I could blame, I think I can pinpoint the catalyst to one thing: my anxiey over the fact I will (hopefully) be qualifying this year.

“I would happily wait a lifetime until I become a staff nurse!”

People keep asking me “where would you like to work?” and exclaiming “I bet you can’t wait to qualify!” The truth is I have no idea where I would like to work and actually, no, I can wait to qualify, in fact I would happily wait a lifetime until I become a staff nurse!

The only way I can describe how I am feeling is by sharing with you a reoccurring dream (nightmare) I have…

I am on placement and in the middle of a medication round with my mentor when the nursing police (in my dream this is Phil and Holly off This Morning) march onto ward and arrest me for being an imposter on the nursing course and having no nursing knowledge. Finally I’m caught out for being a phoney nursing student. It feels like a pantomime when they catch the bad guy.

“I feel like I am struggling to manage myself never mind a whole ward!”

When I speak to some of my fellow student nurses they seem to share my apprehension but others in my cohort seem to have so much more ability and confidence than me. Telling me how they are running whole wards on placement and wish they could be qualified right now. Maybe they can tell me their secret? I feel like I am struggling to manage myself never mind a whole ward!

My current placement is at a hospice. My university employ a hub and spoke model for placements, meaning we keep revisiting our hub placement throughout the year. This is my second visit to the hospice and upon returning I felt like I’d forgotten everything.

In one respect I feel I have found my niche in palliative care but the speciality of this area is overwhelming. The knowledge the palliative care nurses have about drugs, symptom control, wound care… the list is both endless and jaw-dropping and as a student nurse their knowledge feels unobtainable.

“It is so hard to believe what someone says when you’re having a crisis of confidence”

My mentor here tells me I am doing just great but it is so hard to believe what someone says when you’re having a crisis of confidence. While I am anxious at my apparent lack of knowledge, I do know I am in the right career because of how privileged I feel to be able to care for people and support them at their most vulnerable.

So maybe I can do this… Thinking about how ‘right’ it feels is helpful. Ok, enough of sitting in bed and wallowing. Time to get up, get my big girl pants on, get ready for my next shift and remember that I can do this…




Readers' comments (3)

  • Hi Lucy!

    I think your concerns are completely rationale....if your mentors believe you are doing well, then you most probably are (its not worth putting their registration on the line!). Speak to them about your concerns.

    Just remember, no-one knows everything at the end of three years and it would probably be more worrying if you think you did! It probably doesn't help your tired and have lots of other things going on. I am on my first placement and am absolutely exhausted... but JUST KEEP GOING... you will get there x

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  • Hi Lucy,
    Thank you for sharing your story!! As a student nurse in my final year I feel very similar and doubt my abilities and confidence. There are so many different skills and areas of nursing that we can learn and it is easy to compare ourselves to a registered nurse who has been doing the role for 20 years. Keep going, speak with your personal tutor at University for support if needed and mentors. Also keep in contact with your nursing students friends, supporting each other is important.
    I imagine 99% of your nursing cohort are experiencing similar thoughts. Be kind to yourself. Keep going and good luck!!

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  • Thank you, thank you, thank you

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