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‘I found that patients’ confidence in me propelled the confidence in myself’

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No matter how much I planned and prepared myself for that day, I felt completely out of my depth when I set foot in my first lecture a year ago.

emma wilby cook

emma wilby cook

Emma Wilby-Cook

My inner dialogue was whispering: “Go home, it is safe there!”

I had always made sure my work fitted around my two children and more often than not, it meant I would be in a role I disliked. I would often feel I was not reaching my full potential and this is something that I tell my children to do all the time, so I decided it was time to practice what I preached! This was to be a huge step away from everything I had known. This was actually doing something for me, something to fulfil that ambition I never knew I had.

We were allocated peer mentors; these gems were a year ahead of us, knew what was coming and were able to spread light on burning questions we did not want to ask lecturers.

”Of course, most of the questions were about placements”

Of course, most of the questions were about placements. The anticipation of that first placement overtakes most other worries. How will I cope? What if I hate it? What if I do not get on with my mentor? I actually could not imagine standing there like them, giving advice saying “It will be OK, you can do it.”

They had completed their first year, it was under their belts. I couldn’t help but envy them.

If you don’t have the confidence in what that uniform says you are, you can be sure a service user will! You will automatically become “Nurse!” on that first day.

I represented the profession immediately, even though I felt I did not yet have the substance to back it up. I found that their confidence in me propelled the confidence in myself. I found I armed myself with tools to get through the good and bad times.

”You will automatically become “Nurse!” on that first day”

These were: smile, even if sometimes you want to go and cry into your apron, and say hello and introduce yourself. By saying “I’m Emma, a student nurse”, I actually started to believe I was! I actually started to feel a transition in myself by the time I finished that first placement.

Back at university, during a lunch break with my friends (and friends for life they will become, no one will understand like they do!) we were approached by a senior lecturer.

He wanted us to go and speak to the new cohort that had just started six months after us. We agreed to answer their questions and generally be the face of six-months-down-the-course students.

Did we survive?

The answer is yes, there’s me and my peers, six months on answering questions about placements (obviously!) and generally chatting. We left that room looking at each other and realising how much we had developed in just six months.

When I started this journey and until very recently, I would always say “if I qualify” when referring to my future plans. Now I say “when I qualify” and I have the confidence to go with it.

Emma Wilby-Cook is a second year student nurse at University of Suffolk

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