This was reflected in a comment my personal tutor made to me before Christmas. He asked my opinion on why students seem to neglect the theory side of the course. We had been having a discussion regarding student attitudes and how some students believe it is acceptable to be late or not turn up for the theory side of the course, how some students will have a nap, listen to music, and play games or read papers whilst in lectures yet when on placement never dream of behaving in such a way. I struggled to give him an answer.
I spend 50% out on the wards and 50% of my time in University learning the theory that underpins my knowledge. Everyone is quick to compare wards, who the nice nurse is, who the great mentor is, if they give you good hours and if they make you work weekends. Yet there never seems to be so much discussion about the academic side of being a student nurse. Personally I enjoy the academic side as much as the practice element of being a student nurse. I enjoy being challenged to learn, to complete research. But I also love being on the wards to learn the practical skills of nursing, to increase my communication skills and completing patient care, to me the two aspects of learning compliment each other.
Most lecturers will be qualified nurses and many still work out in practice to keep their skills up to date. Lecturers will have many years of practice and experience that shouldn’t be undervalued. I personally have found the knowledge and guidance from my lecturers is second to none and directs my learning. They want to share their knowledge and they want to help you get to grips with the course. They push you to understand that you need to know the theory to be able to apply the practice when you get out on the wards. I am finding that I am actually starting to understand the academic side of things. My Eureka moment was when I was watching Casualty one Saturday night and I actually understood what they were talking about!
Your lecturers are there to provide support as well as education. My personal tutor was the one I turned to when I experienced my first arrest. He managed to make sense of the hysterical, sobbing message I had left on his answer machine and took the time to phone me back and make sure I was ok. His support and encouragement keeps me going. He has faith in me when I doubt myself and my ability. This encourages me and makes me think, if he believes in me, surely I must be doing something right???
What I am really trying to get across is don’t underestimate the academic side of your learning by placing all the importance on your practical experiences. The academic side is there to give you knowledge, broaden your horizons and challenge your ways of thinking. The practical and academic sides of being a student nurse are both important. They each compliment the other so when you qualify, the skills you have gained from both will make you a safe, competent and knowledgeable nurse.