Being a mature student nurse has both its advantages and disadvantages.
I have life experience, having had several different types of jobs over the years I can adapt easily to different situations. I am able to take a back step and evaluate situations before diving in head first. However, while this is great on placement; balancing family, work and study can be challenging.
When I started my first year I remember one lecturer advising us all of the importance of having a work/life balance. I took this on board, clearly it’s an important part of being a successful student nurse, but also a mum and a wife.
I’m lucky: my husband, children and immediate family are very supportive. When I am bogged down with assignments and essays they will pop some washing on, cook the dinner and fed the cats; giving me less to worry about so I can plough all my energy into my work.
However, like most student nurses, I still find it difficult at times to get organised. But there’s a few things I’ve found helpful over the past year and I would like to share them with you.
- Firstly, get yourself an academic diary and fill it with your children’s half terms, clubs, parents’ evenings - anything that you need to be free for. Then add in your placements and the dates your essays are due and you’ll find that you are able to juggle and organise your weeks before they become manic.
- Ensure you have supportive, reliable childcare. This is so important as there is nothing worse than being let down at the last minute. Ofsted registered childminders, breakfast and after school clubs are great, but also close family members can be just as supportive (And even better for cash strapped students!)
- Make time for your family. Organising days out for when I’ve finished placement, trips to the cinema or meals out always make my children happy! Make time for yourself too, a nice hot bubble bath and a bar of chocolate work a treat.
- Talk to your personal tutor or mentor as soon as any childcare or family issues arise. They are not mind readers and will be able to support you more if they know you are struggling with any of your commitments.
- Make time to meet up with “non-nursey” friends. This is something I try and do once a month. Talking about everyday topics can be a nice change, particularly if you’ve thought about nothing but nursing since starting your course.
And above all remember that you’re doing a brilliant job. Nursing is an emotional rollercoaster, it has its highs and lows and can be very challenging, particularly when you’re balancing a home, children and your studies. But you are making a difference and that in itself is superb! Making your family proud makes all the late nights and hard work worthwhile.
Louise Goodyear is the Student Nursing Times adult branch student editor