Knowing that everyone is going through the same experience and I am not on my own kept me motivated through the ups and downs of my first year of nurse training.
That and the support I had from my fellow students and my husband and children. I was not alone, and I appreciate now how much my friends helped me to survive my first year of nursing school.
There is a lot to learn in the first year and sometimes I didn’t remember everything. But I always tried my best and always put my 100% in everything I did. While talking to kids with learning disabilities, I learnt a lot about how they communicated.
Before my first placement I felt nervous and excited but that was expected because I was about to do something new. In hindsight, I realise that being in the classroom for a number of weeks before we started placement was not enough to prepare us. The lecturers spoke to us about what placement is all about and what to expect but at the end of the day we still had a lot to figure out ourselves when we got there.
On my first day I was so anxious I couldn’t speak for the first 30 minutes, but afterwards I settled in and began asking questions: what I needed to do and what was expected from me etc. The entire placement team made me feel welcome and supported me all through the journey of my first-year placement.
Once the initial nerves had worn off I struggled not to ask too many questions, I felt I might become a nuisance to my mentor, but after a while I found that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Soon, I gained the confidence to ask questions because that’s how we learn new things.
As my placement continued there were times when I felt overwhelmed with the long list of things to do: placement, assignments, work commitments and even raising a family.
I felt under pressure but after some struggle I was able to manage my time and even find time for myself. I started to get through my studies and placement. It wasn’t easy, but talking to the right people helped a lot. It was when things got on top of me that I discovered there are people who I can talk to.
At first I went through placement by bottling my problems up. Then, I learnt to reflect on things and began to write things down, and even spoke to my mentor about what I heard or saw. There were a lot of things I heard and saw on placement that I was not prepared for and somethings were upsetting. However, my mentor and personal tutor were there to support me in my journey.
Don’t try to do it alone - use your support network and you’ll find things become much more manageable.
Samantha Brown is in her 2nd year studying learning disability nursing at University of Wolverhampton