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Training as a student nurse has made me grow up

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On joining her nursing course Lucy felt anything other than an adult, now she’s discovering that nursing has required her to grow up …

Lucy Cleden Radford_SNT

Lucy Cleden-Radford

I am an adult.

If we rewind 18 months I would not have said such a thing, in fact, the word ‘adult’ was intimidating to me, terrifying even.

The word adult is associated with responsibility, decision-making and maturity - fear rippled down my spine at the thought.

Being an adult meant making rational, logical and sensible decisions, it meant minding my mouth, and prioritising needs, and being a little more selfless.

Most daunting of all, being an adult meant looking after myself. That seemed impossible. I’ll confess that 18 months ago I didn’t care much for my own well-being. I didn’t matter, and I didn’t realise that could change.

Eighteen months ago the word ‘adult’ filled me with dread. I didn’t learn to drive because it was “too grown up” for me. I relied on my Mum to make my decisions about, well, everything. 

At 19 years old I could pass for being immature and dependent on others for a little longer, nobody would judge me, I could continue to relinquish all opportunities at making adult decisions, but half way into my nursing degree and I can no longer be that person.

This course has forced me to grow up. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t cope. I’m working full-time when I am at placement (and in a shop at weekends). I am managing travel. I am keeping on top of assignments. I am supporting my team at placement, and working with my peers at university.

Sleep is important, eating right, exercising, being sociable, managing your money, and reducing your stress levels

I am caring for patients, for clients; I’ve experienced working with happy disabled children at a fun charity camping week in summer, to working with criminals with mental health illnesses and learning disabilities and extremely challenging behaviour who have been sectioned and detained. 

I am learning such a great deal, every single day. I am developing my own ways of coping, and helping others cope. I’ve developed a real work ethic.

Try doing all of that, to your best ability, while not looking after your own health and happiness. It’s not feasible. Sleep is important, eating right, exercising, being sociable, managing your money, and reducing your stress levels. These things are vital to your survival as a student nurse. My own well-being – it’s a priority, and acknowledging this is life-changing.

This is a lesson I needed to learn.

Now that I’ve matured I will have a night in to revitalise when I need to, I don’t bow down to peer pressure. I manage an incredible workload without getting stressed. I can prioritise time, resources and opportunities. I will work many hours and still know how important it is to take time for myself.

This course requires the best of you. The best of me is not a teenager, she is a responsible adult who can weigh up the options and make good choices, a person who doesn’t both blame others for her faults or chastise herself for not being perfect. She is someone who can accept her mistakes and work on them.

The best of me is self-sufficient; I make my own decisions, look after myself and address my needs (even though sometimes I still call on my mum for help).

In 18 months I will be a registered nurse, and that doesn’t terrify me anymore. I have grown so much that the future is no longer intimidating; a full-time job, responsibility for others, management of teams, management of myself.

This course has done so much more than just train me to be a nurse, it has made me grow up.


Lucy Cleden-Radford is a second year learning disability student nurse studying at the University of Nottingham

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