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'Feeling stressed about your nursing course? Just do it'


Claire found first year so stressful that she was trying to change course by December. Then she came up with a coping strategy.

Claire Haywood-SNT

Throughout the second year of nurse training (which I have, thankfully, recently successfully completed) I read numerous blogs and comments discussing ‘second year blues’.

Great, as if first year hadn’t been hard enough, here I was being told that it would only get harder.

So I was surprised when it didn’t.

Second year has passed like a gentle stream in comparison to the tsunami that was first year. During my first year I had great placements, got the grades I needed (although not as good as the perfectionist within me wanted) and built up a fantastic support network.

Yet I felt like quitting.

I was stressed continuously, moody (my fiancé will vouch for that) and ultimately just not sure that I even wanted to be a nurse anymore.

Eventually around December, less than three months after starting my course, I began researching other courses and even contacted application tutors to ask if they would be able to transfer me from my nursing course.

Luckily they couldn’t and I approached my personal tutor for advice. We talked at length about how I felt and how I was spending my time. He made me realise that the course had taken over my life and I wasn’t having any true downtime. He advised me to take one afternoon a week to do something just for me; put the essays aside, forget about work and simply relax.

I tried to follow this advice but quickly realised that, put simply, I’d forgotten how to relax.

My fiancé had also noticed how stressed I’d become and suggested we go for a drive and not return until I had decided whether I wanted to stick at the course or not. We talked over everything and I decided that, being the determined person I am, I would not give up on nursing.

So I tried a different tactic.

Everything course-related seemed to be coming in four week blocks so I simply set myself targets - I would reach the end of this block. By the time I had done that, the next block would have already started, so then I would reach the end of that block.

Eventually, I felt calmer and remembered why I had started the course. I took pleasure from my time on placements, and pleasure from actually NURSING.

Unfortunately this wasn’t much help when I realised that because of my stressing I had three assignments yet to complete and not a huge amount of time to do them - it was a tight timetable for the next few weeks.

I again turned to my tutor who eventually gave me the best piece of advice I have received so far “just do it”.

I had spent so much time stressing that I wasn’t actually completing the task I was stressing about. But now I had motivation.

As I stated previously, I am a perfectionist. Many people see this as a positive trait but in situations such as this it can be a major hindrance - I could rewrite a sentence 20 times without actually adding anything that would gain me marks. But I stuck at it and with the help of my fiancé, family and personal tutor passed first year.

No, I didn’t get the first class marks I was hoping for, but I passed and began second year with renewed vigour.

So, if I could give anybody any advice it would be “just do it”. That doesn’t mean facing your problems alone, it doesn’t mean running yourself into the ground but it does mean just do take that first step towards meeting your goal and then… the next.


Claire Haywood is in her 3rd year studying adult nursing at University of Nottingham


Readers' comments (2)

  • Emma Bainbridge

    Great advice which I think will work for me. I particularly like the bit about seeing it as in blocks to work through one at a time. I shall keep it mind over the three years when I'll be studying for my degree in adult nursing - starting next week!
    Good luck for your third year.

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  • Thanks for the positive comment Emma, I really hope it helps :-D Good luck with your degree - don't forget to enjoy it.

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