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My dose of "the second year blues"


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.

Rachael Starkey Student Nursing Times editor

Rachael Starkey is Student NT’s child branch student editor

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


Readers' comments (6)

  • hotshiningsun

    Can totally relate to this and have felt exactly the same. Got my inspiration from a fantastic mentor I had last year and still in touch with. Hope it's worth sticking it out!

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  • I know how you feel with second year blues! But when I think of some of the amazing experiences I have had, thanks to the nursing degree, and variety of placements etc. it is a reminder of how much I really enjoy what I am doing.

    On the 7th May I attended the Florence Nightingale Foundation Students' Day in St Thomas', London. It was such an inspiring and special day and to meet loads of other student nurses from across all of the UK and to chat with senior nurses, was absolutely amazing.

    The day finished with a commemoration service to Florence Nightingale in Westminster Abbey, and I really must say, I was speechless by how amazing the experience felt and to feel the respect, recognition, and gratitude that so many people have towards Florence Nightingale, nurses all over the world in the vast variety of environments (particularly those at war), and us - the up and coming future of nursing.

    The whole day was a great boost to morale and empowered to be the leaders of the future. It was very humbling and I felt very proud to be apart of it.

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  • Here here!!

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  • you keep right at it young lady! I am sure you are doing just fine and probably much better than you think. once the euphoria of any novelty has worn off we all have our dips of mood for a very wide variety of reasons when we don't perform as well as we would like or expect of ourselves and this will go on throughout life. nobody can expect everything to go well like a rising straight line on a graph.

    Your country, your patients, your colleagues and the health services need you!" -- hang on in there and just keep going right on........

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  • Samantha Lowther

    I can releate to this very much! I am absolutly passionate about nursing and love and I am good at the practical side of nursing. However my academic skills gets me down as I am not very confident or good academically. I have recelty failed an exam and I am having to resit it and it has made me feel upset and like the only one who has failed it as everyone around me has passed it. Nerver mind all I can do is revise harder and hope I pass this time!!! Roll on third year!!!!

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  • I am 53 and just entering my second year of nursing NP3 and I can not wait but I am really nervous. We all have our doubts about whether nursing is right for us at different times and I have had many times. The reason I keep going is that I believe we are privileged to have a place on the course and that the best is yet to come. I have a great regard for the younger students as I know I could not have done the course too young but just believe in yourselves and tomorrow will be a better day and you will change people's lives and be there when they most need you. That is a privilege toooooo! Good luck to all student nurses.

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