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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

How To Survive Nursing School

Second year is over and as relieved as I am, I'm not going to pretend I know everything about what nursing school is and has in store for anyone who plans on going through it - which is much less now the government have taken away our bursaries..But, I can impart some tips on how to survive, of which I will be using all of them in my final year..

Prepare yourself in all senses of the term. It's going to be tough, prepare mentally, know that you will find some things hard and this isn't an easy course to take, make sure everyone around you knows you may be running around pulling your hair out at some points of the year.. Prepare yourself in theory, get ahead of the game, read some books related to nursing before you start, get set with biology or calculations if you're particularly bad at them. These will stand you high up in class and on placement and will make your life easier in the long run.

When you start your first term of your first year don't worry if you feel overwhelmed, it gets easier believe me. I remember thinking 'but how do we know what to do' in response to fixing a patient problem, but now it's all second nature and the more you learn the more it all fits together in the end - especially by year 2.. In the same way, don't be scared to ask questions if you don't understand or you do feel overwhelmed - everyone loves a student who actually asks questions and looks interested rather than one who glances at her phone every 5 minutes and nods along to all the nurse is saying.
Since half of your time will be spent at university and half in placements, make sure you try to do all the work set for your theory, because in reality the stuff your learning in uni isn't useless information.. you can actually put the theory into practice throughout the year. Try not to get behind on work, this is sometimes inevitable and you will end up with so much to do at one time just because that's how your lecturers decided to do it, but don't stress, make a list of everything and prioritise.
Ask why. This is extremely important when on placement and I do this a lot in order to get more detail and information from nurses, doctors and whoever I'm with to understand what's happening. They're have been multiple occasions when people say 'to put it simply' or 'you won't understand the details' to me, and I have then told them to tell me in whatever way they usually tell someone - most times it's a doctor and trying to 'put it simply' just infuriates me because nurses are intelligent and can understand complex things..


Smile. Possibly one of the most basic skills in history. If you don't smile people will think you're a moody grump, so even if you are on you're third night shift in a row and feel like death, you can still force a smile out for patients, parents and staff who may also be having a bad day..

Be organised, plan your years, your days and even your hours if you're on wards knowing what you need to get done each hour is incredibly helpful. Being organised is among the most important skills a nurse can have - I mean without a plan patients wouldn't get medication, they wouldn't even be discharged so yes very important.


Sleep and get enough rest, a tired nurse or student doesn't make anyone's lives easier and now since there are less nurses, students unfortunately need to be on the ball and take some responsibilities of a qualified nurse - which is not how it should be but that's what the reality is. Be prepared to lose some sleep though, switching from exams to assignments to 12 hour shifts and days to nights throughout three years means your sleeping pattern may be a little off for a while - just like a qualified nurse though.


Involve yourself in university life or any nursing related activities to make yourself stand out. If you're going for a job at a certain hospital and there's 5 applicants all with Nursing degrees, do you pick the ones with just the degree or the one who was a student representative, part of the nursing society and also volunteers. Obviously that person may be a complete shambles as a nurse and that's what the interview is for, but on paper you look more employable.. so get involved if you can.


Enjoy it. Because soon you'll be qualified and learning more and more until you're that matron you were once terrified of..

Thanks for reading! 

Em x

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