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My top 10 tips for new student nurses

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Third year student nurse, Terri McCrum, gives her advice on how to cope as a new student nurse fresher …

  1. Remember everyone is new to this. Yes you feel like a fish out of water, but everyone’s in the same position. Most new student nurses will feel nervous and anxious on their first day. If you’ve moved into student accommodation get to know your neighbours - they could become some of your closest friends.
  2. Try to talk to everyone. Friends are some of the best support you’ll get on the course. You will appreciate it when you’ve spent endless hours with them in the library. Also, being friendly and approachable is an important aspect of nursing, showing this quality from the start will help you throughout your course.
  3. Manage your money. Work out what money you have going out on bills at the start of every month, then you know what money you have left to spend.
  4. Get to know your course layout. Understanding when you are in university, on placement or on annual leave will help you plan your time. Also if you are on placement then you may need to travel or move into accommodation on the hospital base, generally these rooms are hard to get and so applying early will ensure you get a room when you need it.
  5. Get to know your lecturers. Don’t expect your lecturers to come running after you if you don’t hand a piece of work in. This is especially true in placement. Make sure you keep in contact with your university regularly. Link lecturers will often visit you in placement, make sure you know when this is and that you will be on duty. Link lecturers will give you assignment advice and help with any problems you may be having. Invaluable!
  6. Preparation is key. When you receive your placements, find out what kind of area you are going to, what specialities they cover and what will be expected of you. Then consider what you want to get out of the placement. Consider visits with specialist nurses and the multi disciplinary team. Understanding the most common conditions you will encounter will really help with your placement experience (and impress your mentor!).
  7. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something just ask. Remember your mentors are there to help you. They’ve been in your position at one time and most will be happy to hear you asking questions, it helps them to see what you know and what areas need improving. It also shows you are willing to learn.
  8. Study as you go. Read books and material surrounding your lectures you receive in university. Your lecturer wont have time to tell you everything and so self directed study helps you increase your knowledge and remember information better. Try and keep up with this weekly, it’s no fun when you come to exams and have to learn everything from the start!
  9. Take notes throughout lectures. Your university may provide power points from the class but you will always remember more from your own scribbles taken down during the class. These are good for revising from when it comes to exam period and you can make these into bullet points which are easy to remember.
  10. Have fun. Nursing is a challenging course to study, but loads of fun. From skills classes to placement there are always lots of opportunities to make new friends from your colleagues. In roughly three years time you won’t remember all those late night studying sessions and assignments!

Terri McCrum is a third year at the University of Ulster, coleraine studiying adult branch nursing.

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