Starting a new course at college or university is hard, regardless of whether you are fresh out of school or a seasoned higher education institute attendee like myself; a mature student, in other words. Joining a cohort of young people is challenging when on the one hand they are still mostly living with parents or in the horror that is student halls; some of them aren’t even 18 yet so can’t (legally) join you for a drink and revel in the fact that I live with my partner. It’s also difficult to find your way around a new campus, navigating a frustrating number of room and building codes and trying to understand your timetable if you are lucky to get one on time at all. But it is also incredibly exciting; You have grown as an individual and are ready to join an institute of learning as well as take your first steps on the path to your chosen profession. It is easy to feel both insignificant in amongst the hundreds of students, as well as feeling incredibly important; you may be the first of your family to go to university, or the only one beginning a nursing career in your peer group. Either way, it is a unique experience for all.
There are roughly 600 or so student nurses in my cohort this year, carefully treading the minefield that is the nursing timetable. Over the next three to four years, there will be dropouts and perhaps even some new students joining the ranks. Some of us will find passion in an area of nursing we had never considered, whereas some will feel that they are stumbling through every placement and exam, wondering why on earth they chose this course and career. At this point, we have all started this degree with the same purpose: To make a difference.
It is not enough for us as nurses just to “care” for patients. To care for someone encompasses many different values and traits: We can care for a patient by providing personal care or assistance with feeding, or by showing empathy to patients and their families in difficult circumstances. Improving our knowledge base and skills is also a key element in caring for patients, as it not only shows that we genuinely care – in the purest sense – about our patients, but that we understand the important role we play within healthcare and are able to fulfil our duties to the best of our abilities.
My first trimester at university consists of three topics, each of significant importance. Beyond learning about basic physiology, we have been introduced to values and rights based nursing practices, reflective writing – we will have to do this throughout our registration as a nurse – and interprofessional skills, so that we fully equipped to succeed in this vocation. We also have our clinical skills labs, as well as the excitement of Cleanliness Champions. It all seems a little overwhelming at first and the workload at home is pretty intense, despite it only being the start of week 3, but I am settling into a routine well.
I have already made some good friends and am enjoying everything I am learning and can’t wait to update you all on how I’m doing. Good luck to all you fellow students and everyone else who has started at university or college this year!