Life as a student nurse: The good, the bad and the damn right rewarding


Let me take you back to when my journey to becoming a student nurse began. In February 2016  I received an offer from the University of Southampton to study Adult nursing BN. What was my reaction? Very, very excited. So in September 2016 when my offer had become unconditional, my life as a student nurse had begun.

Now, I know what you must be thinking “She hasn’t been doing this for very long.” but let me tell you, in my first five months I have experienced a lot. A lot of different emotions that all student nurses will experience throughout their training.  Happiness, sadness, tiredness and most of all satisfaction that I have chosen one of the most rewarding careers in the world.  I am very fortunate that I was the last intake to have their degree funded for and giving a bursary by the NHS. Otherwise I would have found myself not being able to afford to got to university.

So after freshers week had well and truly finished, the hard work began.  If you are thinking of going into nursing and think a nursing degree is an easy ride, think again. Within the first month I learnt very quickly how much hard work and commitment is needed in theory as well as practice.

If you have the motivation to self learn, then you will find that learning nursing theory becomes a lot easier. Never go in with the attitude “I only need 40% to pass” always think “What can I do to make sure that my theory, has the same high standard as my practice.” If you think that, you will be an amazing nurse.

Within the first few months I had already felt like I couldn’t do this, that i’m not good enough to be a nurse. Many crying sessions had happened with my best friend because I felt like I was really struggling with the health science module. But then I remembered something, the reason why I want to be a nurse, I want to make a difference and say I’ve done something with my life that has benefited others.

In November came the moment every student nurse on my course had been looking forward to since freshers week. The collection of our uniform. This is the moment for me when it started to feel so real. That my two years of hard work at college had led to that moment, that I had rightfully earned my uniform and the title of student nurse.

If I could give just one piece of advice to a future student nurse, it would be use the support around you. Admitting that you’re finding things a little bit difficult is ok. Whether  it’s finding you are having problems with dealing with the workload or emotionally. Your personal and academic tutor is always there to help you and give you advice. From someone who is absolutely terrified for asking for help as I feel it shows me as weak, seeing my tutor was the best thing I ever did, as it stopped me from dropping out and she managed to get me the support I needed.

So by January the first term had come and gone and people were coming back from the   Christmas holidays. Which could only mean one thing, January exams were coming. Within the first term we had managed to cram the whole of the bodies systems into different lectures and seminars, and did I feel prepared for the health sciences exam? Not in the slightest. Revising four months worth of theory is a matter of weeks proved incredibly challenging. A lot of crying had taken place during these weeks, as well as constant trips to Mcdonalds to grab myself a Mcflurry to try and get me through the long days and nights of revision.

Then the day of the exam had arrived. Despite the long nights of revision, again did I feel prepared for this exam? Not a chance in hell.  So after nearly having a panic attack before going into the exam, I calmed myself down and continued with the exam. How did I feel when I came out? Well, when you come out crying  you properly think it didn’t go well. But a few days later when I checked my university email, I had one email I really didn’t want to open, my results. When I finally got the courage to open the email, I was looking at the word that I thought I would never see PASSED.

With January exams now over and a few nights celebrating my exam result at Popworld , it was time to prepare for the next very exciting adventure, practice placement 1.

So the night before placement beings is all very exciting. You iron your uniform out and set your alarm so you can get up super early to get ready. Also making sure your bag is all packed with the nursing essential such as a stethoscope, a bottle of water and lots of pens.

Feet hurt? feeling tired after a long shift? Welcome to life in the NHS. But trust me, the feet hurting and the feeling tired after a long day is all worth when it when you go home  knowing you have done at least one thing to make a patient feel more comfortable.

Now, I’ve only just finished my first week of placement, but with the amount I’ve learnt in such a short space of time, it feels like I’ve been there for a long time.

Being out on placement is very different from being in university and practising your skills such as taking observations on your fellow students. Now you have to use your skills on real life patients.

On my second day on the ward however, it was very busy and the ward was understaffed due to sickness. I felt so lost and didn’t know what to do as all the health care assistants were rushed off their feet and I couldn’t do much to help as i’m only a first year student on her first ever placement. So after finishing my shift and feeling exhausted, all I felt I could do was cry as I felt I had been useless. And I said to myself “That’s it I can’t do this anymore!”

So the next day I went and spoke to one of the sister on the ward and she was one of the most amazing people I have ever spoken to. She said to me that it is ok to cry as it shows that nurses are human as well.  She also said to remember that it is my first ever placement and that I am doing really well. As well as that I am great in actually showing that I care about patients which is the main thing that a nurse needs to do. In that moment I knew that I had made the right decision to go into nursing. Another piece of advice to fellow student nurses, use your mentors. If you feel like you are struggling with anything on placement, they are the first person you should go to and they are always willing to help. Their job is to help you become the best nurse you can be and to get the most for your placement. What will the next week of placement bring? Who knows. But am I now enjoying placement? Very much so!

So, if you think a career in nursing if for you but are being put off by the struggles that the NHS is currently facing, don’t be. Despite feeling tired a lot and sometimes crying, would I pick another career to do? Never in a million years.