Most student nurses felt the fear before starting their course, but how can you turn this fear into a positive?
“Dare to live your dream,
“In this life don’t be afraid of yourself”
(Anathema – The Gathering of the Clouds, from the album Weather Systems)
Music is a massive part of my life and has been since my early teens. I’m now at the grand old age of 28 and it’s still as influential and comforting as it was all those years ago.
The above lyrics sum up what I want to talk about in this blog: fear. Fear of situations, fear of the unknown, phobias and, as the lyrics allude to, fear of ourselves.
Now I’m not going to lie, nursing is a tough profession. We’re expected to be caring, skilled and educated professionals and there is a lot of pressure on us, even as students, to get it right. It’s a pretty scary prospect.
I’m about to start my first year as a mental health student nurse, so my biggest fear currently is what to expect. But I also think I’m as well prepared as I can be to deal with this fear and get the most out of this year.
So I want to present a few tips for dealing with fear:
1. Know yourself
As a future mental health nurse, I’m a firm believer that the benefits of knowing yourself are phenomenal. If you know what scares you, you can prepare yourself to deal with it before it happens. I’d also highly recommend viewing the TED talk by Professor Brendan McCormack who I had the great pleasure of hearing speak at an RCN conference in March. He discusses if far more eloquently than I ever could.
2. Educate yourself
Fear often comes from a lack of understanding. So it stands to sense that knowing about what scares you will help you to deal with it. Over the last year, I identified areas where my knowledge was lacking and sought to educate myself about these topics. I learnt about nursing in general, about how to write in an academic setting, about the psychology of how people learn and react to situations. A conference opened my eyes up to the challenges of older people’s nursing. Reading journals and textbooks filled knowledge gaps in biology and nursing models. Online guides taught me to cite and reference confidently in assignments.
As a result, I feel a lot more prepared and confident than I otherwise would at this point.
3. Embrace the fear
As mammals, our bodies naturally have mechanisms to deal with fear, know as the ‘fight or flight response’ (though a good deal of fear is psychological). Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but letting fear hold you back is. I know that everyone reading this, who is about to embark on this journey, has been scared at some point in the way to getting here, but you’ve done it.
Be proud, hold your head high and dare to live a dream. You already are, and now I am too.
Elise Gray is about to start her first year studying mental health nursing at University of Nottingham