So recently i had a friend who had been accepted onto the nursing degree which she was hugely excited about and wanted to gather some advice from someone that “had been there and got the t-shirt”. She asked me a really good question…
“Charlotte, if you could tell your new student self, something you know now, but didn’t know then, what would it be?!
Being put on the spot i couldn’t really come up with anything that great at the time… after some thought and bringing up the question with my uni friends here’s what we came up with…
The ultimate success secrets to being a first year student nurse!
- Plan! Plan! Plan! Its so easy to think about, but so hard to put into action! It’s the one thing that will save you a lot of stress and tears! Procrastination gets you know where on this course! (However its not the easiest thing to combat!)
- Whilst on placement, know your limits! No question is a silly question! If your not sure about something just ask! Mentors will appreciate it and will appreciate you knowing your limits! Just remember placement only happens until you qualify, gather as much information as you can during this time! Because once you have qualified people will start to come to you for the answers!
- The course is not a competition of who has got the highest mark in an assignment. The course is tough! It is emotionally and physically draining. Be there for each other, study together and talk about the good and bad days, help each other out!
- If you read something interesting make a note of where it came from! There have been so many occasions where i have sat down to write an assignment, and those little bits of information come back to me! Then i end up spending hours on end trying to track them down to reference them! A notebook or app will do the trick!
- Try and use your time wisely. I am a mum to a three year old and organising my time is key! Plan childcare in advance, read when you can whenever you can and try your hardest to start assignments soon after they have been issued! Time creeps up on your so quickly and before you know it, its two weeks until the deadline! (And no… that’s not enough time to research, write and reference a 3,500 word essay! although i have done it! BUT! it was by no means pretty!)
- Whilst on placement always carry a small notebook in your pocket! I use a hardback one from “The Range” which cost me 75 pence and i could not get through a shift without it! Also if you want to keep note of medications a small telephone book if perfect! You can list each medication under the letter listed, which makes it easier to look up again when you need a quick reference.
- If you struggle to write down notes quickly some students find using a “Dictaphone” does the trick. It can be used to record the lecture to which you can then listen back to it when you are at home. I find using “Notabilty” an app on my Ipad the best option for me, it allows me to take notes, insert pictures, scribble, highlight, move things around, and record the lecture all at the same time! Its amazing guys!!
- Don’t be to hard on yourself whilst on placement. You have to remember you are just a first year student and everyone working alongside you will know that. Tag along with the HCA’s, they can be a huge asset to getting grounded in those first couple of weeks and you may find them more approachable than other members of staff.
- I know it is generally quite rude to “earwig” into conversations, but i do this all the time whilst on placement! and i learn so much! If the consultant is behind a curtain with a patient you are interested in, ask if you can stand in and listen to the plan. Some of the best bits of knowledge i have gathered are whilst i have been making a bed in the same bay and listening to the conversation going on behind that blue curtain! Or standing around the nurse station when a bunch of doctors and specialist nurse are busy at work and talking to people on the telephone! You will be surprised at just how much it can help you!
- During your placement try and organise some days off the ward with other specialities, its your chance to seek out experiences that interest you. I have managed to spend days with the tissue viability team, learning a huge amount about wound management and dressings, to days with the psychiatric liaison team and endoscopy!
- Lastly… Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone has their own way of doing things and dealing with certain situations. Every student has their ups and downs, i assure the emotional roller-coaster will eventually pass!