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Support for student nurses: what you can expect

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One question that’s been asked to me by prospective and new students who are about to embark on their nursing career is ‘how much support do you get?’

Well I presume this can vary from place to place.

Having started my second year as a student nurse and already having a degree from previous study, I find it very easy to answer this question. My university has numerous support systems in place and dedicated teams to sit down with students and give them the support they need.

A lot of people don’t realise how demanding studying to be a nurse actually is in comparison to other subjects. Not only do you have to get your academic work completed, you have to attend your placements, make sure you’re achieving your outcomes for that placement, try to work on the staff bank to get a little extra money and finally, you need to remember to take time out.

Getting support for academic work is relatively easy; a quick email to your university lecturers and bingo - you have an appointment to discuss what they are looking for in your essays and exams.

Placements are somewhat harder to get support if you feel the need to. If it’s an outcome or skill you need to achieve, speak to your mentors. They may be busy but I have noticed in my trust that they always have time for students. They want you to succeed and most importantly, they want you to be an excellent nurse in the future. This has been true for all of my placements so far and I haven’t needed to speak to the university about anything on placement. Even the ward sisters are really supportive and will help the students as much as possible.

I do hear of people that have had not as pleasant an experience though out on placement and its at times like these where you need to talk with your university tutors. My university has a practice placement team - members of university staff who visit the trusts weekly - and if people are having problems then you can go to them for support. During the first placement it was compulsory for us to attend weekly sessions with this team. Any problems people had were discussed and outcomes to the problems provided.

This proved handy for the majority of people and showed the group that university is not only there to teach you the academic things but also to help guide and support people on placement.

The university and placement holders understand that things happen in our day-to-day life and don’t ignore that; they can help with financial problems, provide counselling, give advice and assistance with accommodation plus many other things. At the end of the day, the university, the trust and your mentors want everyone who chooses to embark on a career in nursing to qualify and be an excellent nurse in their practice. Don’t let problems get in your way. A well-known slogan says ‘it’s good to talk’ and that is so true. Enjoy your career and remember, nursing is a privilege.

Lee Hemmings is a second year nursing student studying towards RNDipHE Adult nursing qualification at the University of Wolverhampton.

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