I hated school with a passion.
I was reminded of this when a friend of mine sent me a photo of a hand-drawn yearbook page where I - aged ten (and three-quarters) - listed ‘school’ in big, black capital letters in the section titled ‘dislikes’.
So here I am, now 24 years (and two months) old, and positively delighted at the thought of returning to full-time education and the three-year journey toward becoming a registered nurse.
I’ve always known I wanted to be a nurse, but life circumstances, self-doubt, and terrible exam results (see hatred of schoolwork above) conspired to send me on a few detours before I found my way to university.
“Those worries are balanced out a bit by the challenges I went through before getting here”
Don’t get me wrong, I still have the same first day nerves that my school friends battled when they went to uni for the first time - the fear of not being able to tackle the work, the worry about balancing studying with going out, the nervous feeling that maybe nobody in your class will like you - but those worries are balanced out a bit by the challenges I went through before getting here.
University work is always going to be difficult, whether you’re straight out of school or a mature student, but you’re there to learn just like everyone else; study, help your classmates, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and know that your university has support networks and staff in place should you struggle.
Work-life balance is and always will be a big challenge for student and registered nurses alike. You know what’s best for you and if that means turning down invitations in favour of late-night library sessions then so be it; it’ll pay off in the end - and you won’t have a hangover.
“If you’re shy, try your best to pluck up the courage to speak to your classmates - I’m sure they don’t bite!”
Maybe you will struggle to make friends at university but just remember that you are entering a profession where kindness, compassion, and people skills are key.
If you’re shy, try your best to pluck up the courage to speak to your classmates - I’m sure they don’t bite! If you’re one of the lucky ones who is naturally confident and you spot somebody struggling, offer them a seat at lunch or a loan of your textbook; they may turn into the nurse that helps you through a difficult placement or encourages you to study for that big exam.
What I’m trying to say is that whatever fears and challenges you think are up ahead, I can guarantee that at least one of your classmates is thinking the same thing.
The key to beating these fears is to plan for them, learn what’s right for you, and help your fellow student nurses in their time of need.
“You’re a student nurse now and we all have different skills, personalities, and experiences that we can share to make the best of university”
Maybe you’re heading to university on the back of your A-Levels or Highers, or maybe - like me - you’ve had some time away from education and have been out in the working world.
Whichever category you fall into, you’re a student nurse now and we all have different skills, personalities, and experiences that we can share to make the best of university - and develop into truly amazing registered nurses ready to take on that first shift without a mentor to guide us.
In the end, we’re all heading towards the same goal of registration and your classmates now are potentially your future colleagues. Back each other up now, and before you know it you could be using that teamwork to save lives out in the real world.
Claire McGillivray is a current student nurse