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What does your first year as a student nurse hold?

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Catherine and Cate, staff at Bournemouth University, talk us through what you can expect from your first year as a student nurse.

Learning to be a nurse is not as simple as just being told what to do and then going out and doing it. The process involves time spent in lecture theatres and on self-directed study, alongside learning practical aspects of nursing taught in simulation departments and on practice placements in a variety of settings.

To succeed you need to be determined, organised, positive, assertive and self -directed.

Academic work

At university you “read” for a degree. You will have lectures and seminars to attend but you will also be expected to complete background reading and other self-directed work. As an independent learner you need to get in to the habit of searching for evidence to guide your clinical practice from day one of the course.

To look after the health of others you need to start by taking care of your own. Plan your study wisely and take up all the help offered to you, a study timetable will allow you to work hard and give you time to do other things you enjoy.

Practical skills

In the first year you will learn practice skills through a mix of practice placments and “simulation”. Simulation is used by universities as a way of reflecting on real-life situations. It allows for a variety of clinical skills to be taught and practised in a realistic and safe environment before you practice these skills on actual patients.

This is where you really get to know your fellow students. By sharing experiences and learning together what it is like to be a patient, you build firm friendships and a strong support network of individuals who understand exactly what you’re going through.


Here is an idea of the simulation programme at Bournemouth University:


What do you need to know?   What you will learn?
Introduction to standard precautions

Explore the use of protective equipment and disposal of waste.

The importance of hand decontamination with soap & water and hand gels.

Aseptic technique


Prevention of cross infection through preparation of a sterile field and use of sterile gloves.

Hygiene needs


Consider a range of activities that may be required whilst assisting a patient/ client to attend to their hygiene needs.

Nutritional needs


How to assess patient/client’s nutritional and fluid needs. How to assist them with food and drink, using a variety of methods to achieve this.

Moving and handling


Experience a variety of skills for example: move and tilt a bed, use a slide sheet, roll a patient in bed, assist a patient out of bed, use a stand aid and a hoist.

Observations: vital signs


Practise with fellow students taking each other’s temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure, using a variety of equipment.



Using the legislation and processes relating to the administration of medication, practise drug rounds and injection technique.

Basic life support


Incorporate the safe assessment of a collapsed individual and effective basic life support. The correct management of choking and the recovery position.

Personal health awareness


Explore your own health and wellbeing


The journey to becoming a nurse can be challenging and hard work, but it is also a time when you will grow as a person, meet some amazing people and, hopefully, have a lot of fun.


Catharine Handford is a clinical demonstrator and Cate Wood is a lecturer, both at Bournemouth University


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