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You're already a 'good nurse'

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It’s easy to let yourself be swallowed up in trying to become a good nurse, but, as Mary points out, you already have the characteristics of a great nurse

Mary Taggart-SNT

As I near the end of my fourth week of first year lectures and tutorials, new faces and placement allocations, referencing guidelines and assignment titles, I’m finding myself getting whirled into this new world, the world of a busy student nurse. 

The excitement and anxiousness of the first few days had me step out of my comfort zone, walking into new environments of large lecture halls filled with strangers, finding my way around the maze of rooms and negotiating the workings of the library search engines. 

One minute I have felt extremely proud and enthused, “I’ve made it!” “I’m going to put my all into this!” and the next anxious and asking myself “Should I be here?” “Am I smart enough?”

But I’ve found a way to deal with these flashes of insecurities. If you’re anything like me and have been questioning whether you can make it, stop and think about what you have done so far and compare that to what it is to be a good nurse.


For example…

The arduous application process had you thinking critically about what it is to be a nurse and reflecting on your personality and experiences to date.

Finding your way on your first day, carefully reading directions and campus maps or stopping and asking directions was difficult but you didn’t give up, you’re resilient and resourceful. 

Introducing yourself to your new colleagues and striking up conversations with complete strangers, showed your communication and interpersonal skills. 

Asking for something to be clarified in a tutorial that you didn’t quite get showed your inquisitiveness and having to look up those three funny words just so you could make sense of a sentence, shows your commitment to wanting to learn and evolve.

We can find great inspiration and ideas in our textbooks and journals but I see good nurse practise all around me everyday. The classmate who stopped and took the time to ask how I was when he noticed I was looking a bit stressed in the library demonstrated compassion. The 3rd year student who gave me her email address in case I needed any help with anything showed empathy and understanding. My new friends and classmates who have helped each other out have all showed how great they are at teamwork. 


So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and recognise all these little milestones you are achieving each and everyday. 

You are doing this course for a reason, and I can only assume it is something to do with loving people, working with them, being with them, helping them, caring for them – so don’t forget to look around you everyday and practise your person-centred approach and demonstrate the 6Cs on everyone you meet.  Chat to new people regularly, stop and take a moment to ask your classmates how they are doing, plan your time so that you can get your work done but also to take time from your work to take the kids to the cinema or go a walk with a friend - you will not forget then what it is you love about nursing and what it is that makes you a good nurse.

It is easy to get bogged down with all the required reading, technical terms and deadlines. When the pressure is on, you may have to cancel a night out or leave the housework to later, but just don’t forget to apply what you are learning to all areas of your life, make nursing part of who you are.


Mary-Louise Taggart is in her first year studying mental health nursing at the University of Ulster




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Readers' comments (1)

  • Fantastic, thank you so much for this article, very encouraging! I will be taking up my offer of a place in London next year, also in mental health nursing.

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