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'You don’t need to sacrifice everything to be a student nurse'


Before I started my nursing course last September, I excitedly trawled through articles, forums and blogs looking for every single piece of information I could find about being a student nurse.

Something that came up time and again was that embarking on this course meant kissing goodbye to my social life for the next three years, and as for any chance of maintaining a relationship, well I had no chance.

“The marriage wrecker” they call it.

As a mature student in a long-term relationship, with a life and friends built up around me this was all a bit worrying!

Did I really want to sacrifice everything to be a nurse? I’ve always been a firm believer in a work/life balance, I’m not one of those people who will work and work without doing anything fun in between…. But I did really, really, want to be a nurse.

Sure enough, first year has been tough.

But not so tough that I haven’t had any time for the things I want to do in life. My relationship is stronger than ever, I’ve been on (very cheap!) travels to other countries and if you were able to access the photos on my phone you’d see just how much fun me and my mates have on a Saturday night.

I’ve also got good grades in my essays, passed all my placements and discovered the joys of researching a topic that I’m passionate about.

But is does take some balancing. My nights out now revolve around my placement rota, but I’ve learnt that the local nightlife can be just as much fun (or more if you’re into owning the dancefloor) on a Tuesday as it is on a Saturday.

With a diary and a bit of planning, I make sure to leave at least two evenings a week free to spend time with my boyfriend. Fitting this in during busy times can mean spending other nights staying up working on an essay and surviving lectures on a few hours sleep, but to me, it’s worth it.

I’ve come out of my first year with good grades, good friendships and great memories. It is doable, you just need to prioritise, plan, try not to panic and most importantly, chill out every now and then. You can and will fit the things you love into your life, if you love them enough.


Rachael Starkey is a second year student nurse studying children’s nursing at the University of Canterbury, and also our children’s branch student nurse editor


Readers' comments (5)

  • Louise Goodyear

    I agree rachael, you need a good home/work life balance, as I am sure after a while my friends would of got sick of me talking nursing 24/7!
    Planning and organisational skills are a must, get the right balance and you can certainly have a life whilst studying! I have a husband, 3 children and 2 cats!nearly 38 in my 2nd year of an adult nursing course. Family and friends understand when I cant make time but when I can they are very supportive.

    Above all enjoy as the time will fly by!

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  • I agree Rachel! I hear all the time about how student nurses have no social lives. I don't have any family commitments but I do manage to fit in placement, essays, work, social life (albeit it a slightly reduced one!) and time to relax. It is doable and it is necessary when you work so hard :)

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  • make the most of your social life, even fit your work in around it if you have to but whatever you do, outside work contacts are vital so don't give them up. you may not be so lucky later on once qualified, working full time and with other commitments.

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  • Katie Sutton

    This is a great piece Rachel, it's good to see someone singing praises about student nurses who have social lives! We need to have fun to cope with the stress of our course as well. I find it helps to schedule "me-time" and socialising into my calendar, so I can still make sure I have time to study and not feel guilty about having time off!

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  • You've just admitted that you have to make sacrifices to get anywhere??

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