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The 5 things I learnt during my first year of nursing


Fasten your seatbelts and hold onto the lap bar, you are about to ride the most wonderful rollercoaster in the world!

How do you feel? Scared? Anxious? Don’t panic – you’ll soon realise there is nothing to worry about!

The empty seats around you will soon fill up with your future best friends, keen to share the excitement with you. I can’t promise that it won’t be a bumpy ride, but I can promise that this is one rollercoaster you won’t regret riding.

I started university like any student (no, not hungover!) excited, anxious and feeling like I was taking a leap into the unknown. One year on and I can honestly say that it’s been the best year of my life. As a student nurse every day is different, whether in university or out on placement there are always new, exciting things to discover.

Here are the top five things that I have learnt during my first year, I hope you find them helpful:

1.   You are stronger than you think – Like any rollercoaster, there are going to be times when you want to scream “never again” - but you can do it! Remember that it’s okay to find situations upsetting, we are human after all. Seek support from those around you. Your mentors, tutors and other students will have experienced similar and can advise you on how to cope. Keep in mind that the good days outweigh the bad days and tomorrow is a new day.

2.   Talking to patients and staff will teach you invaluable lessons – As a student nurse you will come across things that you are unsure of, make a note and ask the staff around you, they’ll be keen to share their experience. Remember that no question is a silly question.

Learning aside, taking time to speak to your patients will give you your best memories, we can learn so much from the inspiring people around us and having a chat with the bubbly student is likely to make someone’s day!

3.   Organisation is key – The first year of nursing can be a shock for people who, like myself, aren’t used to balancing work with study. Juggling assignments, revision and placement is hard but getting organised early prevents stress. Buying a diary at the start of the year will allow you to see where you have time to focus on study. Placement can be hectic at times, so make a to-do list each morning - a rough schedule of what needs to be done allows you to prioritise and designate time for important tasks.

4.   Laughter is the best medicine – Nursing is tough at times, but learning not to take yourself too seriously makes it easier to deal with the challenges. Dropping a urine sample over your freshly polished shoes might seem disastrous at the time, but you’ll be able to giggle about it one day – trust me…

5.   Reflection: no pain, no gain – After a difficult day on placement you probably won’t feel much like writing. But you might surprise yourself with how beneficial it is to take 10 minutes to reflect on your day. Being a student is about learning, we all make mistakes, but learning from them is what makes us professionals.

Overall, being a student nurse is an honour and I hope that when you wear your uniform you feel as proud and excited as I do. Your own personal rollercoaster is ready for departure - work hard, ask questions and most importantly, enjoy!


Grace Baird is in her 2nd year studying Adult nursing at University of Chester


Grace Baird is in her 2nd year stuyding adult nursing at University of Chester


Readers' comments (5)

  • Well said! Hope everyone who reads this article finds it as useful as I did.

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  • Excellent advice, I shall be passing this on to my students.

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  • I found that information really useful as i am currently in my 8th week and at times feel like a duck out of water especially as i am a "mature" student and at times doubt my capability of juggling studying with being a mum to 4. I will remember your key points and enjoy. Thank you

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  • stupot

    This is very helpful. Reflecting on your day does seem like a good idea. As it can help to put things into place and help when som situstions reoccur.

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  • surprising what open and attentive nurses can learn from students and the younger generations (and vice versa of course). well done and keep the information coming.

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