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'My fears are different after the first week'

Sylvia Lowery
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I have now completed my first real week as a nursing student. I was a little afraid before I started the course. 

Would I seem too old, would I fit in. Would it feel strange going to university as a mature student. I bought my new bag and even managed to get some Cath Kidston files in the sale and set off for my first-ever lecture.

My fears are different after the first week. I now know that my cohort are a lovely lot and I am not the only mature student. Everyone is friendly, however in some ways I am just as afraid. This week my fears are different.

”I know the next three years will be hard but it will be worth it”

The talk of the nursing and midwifery council as the police of the nursing profession is fearful. I worry about the 100% in maths and all that anatomy and physiology. But I think despite my fears, I have felt a growing sense of purpose. I feel so privileged to be allowed to train as a nurse.

This conviction has grown deeper over the last week. I know the next three years will be hard but it will be worth it.

Today we had to feed one another yoghurt, I was really surprised to find that my initial reaction to someone shoving a spoon full of yogurt into my mouth was to want to vomit (I didn’t thankfully). I suddenly realised how hard it must be for a person to be fed after living an independent life. It struck me hard how easy it is for any one of us to be the patient who needs care.

Another moment this week that made me sob like a baby was when I enrolled on a course about learning disabilities. I know I was meant to be learning about infection control, but i got distracted. I watched a clip about a man with a learning disability who died in hospital from neglect.

The medics who treated him put his sweating down to agitation and gave him diazepam but they failed to recognize that he was dying. We must learn to treat the person and not be blinded by another diagnosis.

I have an adult son who is on the autism spectrum, and this hit me hard. What if this had happened to my son? One of our lecturers spoke about depersonalisation.

There is always a risk of this happening – of seeing the condition rather than a human – and this is something that works against the NMC’s code of practice, which calls on us all to deliver personalised care.

Sylvia Lowery is a student nurse at Bangor University

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