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'Nothing could be worse than my 12,000 word dissertation'


I am sat in my first job interview applying for the position of a district nurse, when the interviewer starts to tell us we must complete 14 calculations questions, fill out a drug chart and write a care plan for a patient, all in 30 minutes.

I start to panic, knowing that I haven’t done enough preparation. I look around and notice this same look of panic on my colleagues’ faces.

I already know this day isn’t going to end well. It didn’t, I failed my calculations and I was out of the building only an hour or so after coming in. It wasn’t a job I was particularly interested in, I was just happy to get the interview practice but after failing, I felt bitterly disappointed in myself.

I went home only to have to spend the day writing my dissertation that was due in the following week.

With my final destination placement very closely looming I am more than aware of the fact that, with any luck, I will soon be completely accountable for my own actions as a staff nurse.

I know I won’t have someone over my shoulder, someone to fall back on when I make a mistake. I know that I will be signing my notes with my very own pin number, and I know that I will be answerable to the Nursing and Midwifery council.

Although this is a daunting prospect, it’s one I do feel ready for. I believe that my three years of training has prepared me well for the challenges I may face in the initial stages of my career. There is nothing more valuable than experience, although I do know I have a very fresh knowledge of evidence-based, patient-centered care which I believe puts me at an advantage in some ways.

There are, of course, things that I am looking forward to and things I most certainly am not. For instance, I am less than excited at the prospect of working my first ever Christmas and New Year. However, I am very keen to settle down on a ward for more than eight weeks and I hope to make some good friends who will guide me in my transition from student to staff nurse.

It is hard to put into words how over the moon I am that I have just handed in my last piece of academic work on my degree programme.

Although I’m aware more writing will come when I, inevitably, do my mentorship course I believe nothing could be more challenging than the 12,000 words I have just wrote for my dissertation. That is thinking ahead though, right now my biggest worry is actually getting a job, one that I am interested in is obviously preferable, but being offered any work  as a staff nurse will do me just fine. One aspect I really am looking forward to is not living off student loans, bursary’s and my parents. The day I receive my first paycheck will certainly be a happy one.  

So far, my limited experience has made me feel that this transition from being a student nurse to a qualified nurse is going to be quite a stressful one. On the other hand, however, I wonder if the worst of it is over. I have written my personal statement and got past the shortlisting phase, I have tackled my first rejection and I have now completed all of my academic work for my degree.

Perhaps I could look my situation and believe that things can only go up from here.

Chantelle Skett is a third year Adult Nursing student and a rep for the Nightingale Student Council. She is also a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Society Social Team.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Sha12

    I found this quite useful, thanks for sharing your experience.

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  • I remember applying for jobs as a newly qualified last year. Don't let rejections put you off. The best advice I can give anyone though to be so incredibly careful where you accept your first job. I understand how desperate you are to get a job and qualify but make sure you ask specifically about preceptorships in your interview/ application process. My preceptorship was non-existent and I have not been supported as a newly qualified nurse making what should have been a good first job experience to be proud of an absolute nightmare.

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