Recently, I’ve been wondering what on earth I’m doing here. My marks have dropped, I barely scrapped through my placement, I feel like I’m not really that good at anything and I’ve been genuinely considering dropping out.
I don’t think it helps constantly reading about the apparent lack of compassion displayed by degree-level nurses, and the upcoming (highly political) review of nursing education makes me feel like I’m somehow on a course that isn’t good enough. The assumption that any one person can’t be both intelligent and compassionate is sticking around for some reason, and I think I was almost starting to let it sink in…
But then I was lucky enough to be invited to this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards, which can only be described as an inspiring event, displaying and celebrating all the wonderful degree-level students and the fantastic things they do every day. As I sat there listening to Liz Redfern talking about how much things have changed for the better, and how proud she is to witness the stunning combination of intelligence and caring amongst our generation of students, I too began to feel proud again.
Watching the huge smiles (and selfies!) of all the amazing students who won their awards, and the cheers from those supporting them reminded me that we can of course be both.
All of the students there last week already were winners, regardless of whether or not they walked away with an award. They all do the same course as me, and go through the same struggles, with placement issues, long hours, exams, essays and all the other joys of a nursing degree. But they all also do an amazing array of extra things, above and beyond what it takes to qualify, and they do them because they love their chosen profession, because they believe in good quality care and because they have absolutely bucket-loads of compassion.
I can’t credit the current government with enough intelligence to be deliberately turning the nursing profession against itself, pitching those with degrees against those without, both in the job market and on the ward, but it would be easy to mistake it for some kind of cunning plan.
“nurses are awesome, in every sense of the word”
But following the #SNTA tag on twitter shows an enormous amount of support and genuine pride from mentors and lecturers towards their students- and vice versa- which could just be the start of something beautiful. Sitting in that room I began to feel a part of something again, I remembered how amazing it feels to say “I’m training to be a nurse”, because nurses are awesome, in every sense of the word. I want to hang on to that feeling, and I hope that we can all keep shouting about the amazing things that student nurses do all the time.
Anyway, apparently what I was going though was a dose of what’s known as “second year blues” and is not uncommon for students about half way through their course. As the novelty wears off and the work really sets in, it’s easy to get lost in your own journey, and get dragged down by it all. But I’ve realised that it’s not hard to find the good all around me, find people and things to be inspired by and keeping positive helps me stay on top of the game.
Not reading the papers would probably help too.
Rachael Starkey is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for children’s branch