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It's been an honour, but now it's time to go to work...

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In his final article as a Nursing Times student affairs editor, Alan Brownlee, reflects on his time at university. 

I feel a bit of a copycat. Having read Anna’s article on coming to the end of her time as a student, I also want to do the same. I have, however, already finished - and been in work a number of months.

But yesterday I graduated with the rest of my friends on a sunny afternoon in York and said goodbye to that life for the last time. 

I would like to point out something to those nurses who are soon to graduate, that I noticed while sitting in the hall about to receive my parchment.

While looking around, we were perhaps the only graduates in that hall that had any assurance of their future career prospects. The great swell of people entering university for any number of degrees means that competition for graduate positions is increasing, something our chancellor made sure to point out to us all.

“We were perhaps the only graduates in that hall that had any assurance of their future career prospects.”

I remember casually thinking that this has nothing to do with me, having had a job assured prior to graduation along with all my class.

But then I remembered back to my first experience of graduation, and the genuine fear that comes when you have no idea what you are going to do with yourself. And here I was, sat without a care, because my future was practically assured. I think it’s difficult for nurses to get an appreciation of the others studying around them.

The demands of placement and training are so different, which means that at least in my experience, nurses keep to their own. So it’s difficult for us to see past our own niche experiences to those of other students. But having been one, its interesting to compare the two.

I had a great time in my first degree. Three years of weekly parties, very little actual contact time with tutors and largely a free reign to explore your creative ideas. But nothing came of it.

“We are so lucky to be so in demand.”

Whereas now, having worked hard for two years, often doing jobs that would traditionally be performed by paid employees, each member of our class is now in fulfilling work.

For all the negativity surrounding nursing prospects, be that pay or the huge number of open posts, we are so lucky to be so in demand. And if it feels like coming to the end of the precipice when you reach the end of your nursing degree, it could easily be a lot worse, because unlike most of those around you, you’re pretty sorted.

So to those beginning their degrees in September, you have made a very sensible choice, and to those finishing, good luck!


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