When Louise started her nursing course she was anxious and worried, a year on and she feels a different person
This time last year I was in your shoes, ready to start my first year on the adult nursing course. A mixture of emotions and questions ran through my mind:
Am I going to be able to cope as a mature student nurse?
Will my family suffer?
Will I be liked by other students?
What happens if the work is too hard?
…and many more worries and anticipations.
But after I had been there a few weeks I found that I wasn’t alone, everybody was feeling the same - what a relief!
I won’t lie to you - first year has been tough, both mentally and physically, but I would not change any of it. I have grown from originally only wanting to be a theatre nurse to being extremely passionate about the care of our ageing population and about being a voice for older people, ultimately I hope to follow a career path within district nursing or dementia care. But this realisation of my true calling has only come about after I took on board all the tips from other students and friends and with the support of my family and the university staff. So here are my top tips for surviving your first few weeks as a student nurse and beyond:
- Have an open mind
This I feel is crucial. I started my course with ideals of changing nursing, something I still intend to do even if it’s just changing one patient’s life, but I now know that I can’t change nursing, but what I can do is be there for my patients 100% and go home satisfied that I have done something good.
- Take advice (with a pinch of salt)
Listen and take advice from other students, friends and family but don’t hang onto every single word they say as this is your journey. Many nurses will try to scare new students with woes of “what if’s” and “has been’s”. I found this a lot, but I kept my focus on why I am following my dream and that’s certainly helped me so far.
- Treat yourself to an academic diary
Many of my fellow cohort, family and friends know me for having a love for a certain stationary chain… I started last year with a brilliant academic diary that enabled me to plan my children’s holidays, school trips and parent’s evenings along with timetables of lectures, exams dates and placements. I have treated myself to another diary this year and I would suggest that this is a must for any student - especially students with children.
In the first few weeks you will be overwhelmed with hand-outs, information, leaflets, timetables, appointments for injections and so on. Make sure you get yourself a plastic envelope style folder to keep everything in one place. This will stop you from hunting at the last minute for your occupational health appointment letter or your timetable for manual handling. Being organised will help reduce stress levels. After the first few weeks I was able to organise a large ringbinder folder into sections with each subject and have everything I needed to hand.
- Enjoy yourself
As a mature student I found it quite hard in the first week to mingle, and I worried I wouldn’t fit in. This certainly was not the case, I have found a great support group of friends and we regularly get together for coffee, chat about family life and sometimes even discuss our studies! Make time for family and friends outside of nursing too, the first few weeks fly by and indeed the first year will, enjoy it as you really are in a privileged position, you have been chosen for a reason: to make a difference!
Louise Goodyear is the Student Nursing Times Adult branch editor