A day in the life of an English student nurse: wha...

A day in the life of an English student nurse: what it’s REALLY like


My alarm goes off. I wake up, check my timetable to make sure I definitely still have a 9am lecture, and check the weather. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all get a look-in too. Hey, it’s the millennial’s checking the morning paper. Us student nurse types are booked into a full lecture first thing. One of our lecture halls is notoriously chilly on Monday mornings so I mentally make a note to pop my slippers in my backpack so I don’t get too cold.

07:00 – A toasty wake-up for a chilly student nurse

I will myself to get out of bed. Remember that Simpsons episode where Homer skips church, stays in bed, and gets all warm and cosy like a toasty cinnamon bun while it’s freezing outside? That’s me at this stage. Nevertheless, I manage to get out of bed, swoop my dressing gown over my shoulders, and head to the bathroom.

07:15 – New Look saves the day with fluffy jumpers

After a wash and poop, I get dressed. We don’t have a student nurse skills session today which means no tunic and trousers are needed. For days where we’re practising life support, hygiene and the rest, we need to dress like we’re on placement. Today, though, I’m in jeans and a trusty fluffy New Look jumper. It’s all about the snuggle. I check my bespoke nursing whiteboard planner (designed by me, kindly provided by Teacher Boards) and get my bag ready.

A day in the life of an English Student Nurse

My very pretty, very essential custom designed student nurse bespoke magnetic whiteboard from

07:30 – Lunchtime prep… how about a salad?

No make-up today. Time to get food prepared. Not eating carbs = no junk food (have a read of my reasons why if you like). Our cafeteria only seems to serve carb-heavy foods, such as chips, jacket spuds and quiche. All full of carbs/sugar. Not for me. I check if there are any leftovers from dinner and settle on a spinach salad with an olive oil and lemon dressing with some shredded curry-rubbed chicken. I make another mental note to buy Babybel from the local supermarket. The previous mental note is long forgotten at this stage. I shall have cold feet.

07:45 – A coffee and a literal rush

I quickly boil the kettle and make a coffee with double cream in my overnight coffee Thermos flask – my lifesaver for long lectures – say goodbye to David and the cats and make my way to the car. There are crazy train delays so it’s best to brave the roads and the parking situation at uni. I sit in the van for ten minutes as the condensation clears away and the heaters start warming my frozen hands. David clears the dishwasher and the carnage I leave behind – I have no idea what I’d do without him and his support. I wouldn’t be at university, that’s for certain.

08:00 – Mixing Chris on the radio

The drive begins. I listen to Chris Moyles on XFM Radio X and the team talk about [whatever they’re talking about] for the 30-minute journey. Embarrassingly, I used to think Chris Moyles was Chris Evans and had an irrational hatred of him until I realised they were – in fact – different people. Listening to new and old tunes, I sing along to the radio in my weird cat way.

08:30 – Traffic, traffic, traffic

Traffic by uni at this stage is immense. A school is right opposite where I need to park, and lazy parents use the road to drop their little darlings (who start hitching up their skirts and messing up their hair before they even leave their parents’ Chelsea tractors) so I wait patiently until they realise they are in the way and decide to leave. I might beep once or twice so they understand the world doesn’t just revolve around them.

08:45 – A typical Subway welcome

My group is sat outside Subway (I’m never really sure why, it just became a habit) and we all start to head to the lecture hall. As most other students pick and choose which (if any) lectures to attend campus is really quite quiet. We spot a few from our cohort walking over from their campus digs and wave, knowing they’ve just woken up, had a deodorant shower and wandered over. Still, they live in halls so that’s punishment enough.

09:00 – Lecture time

Lecture begins – all branches are together here: mental health, child and adult. I remember forgetting my slippers and wrap my scarf around my toes. This lecture is part of our bioscience series, so we all take frantic notes as we listen. Our lecturer adds practical advice in here and there. For example, in our cardiovascular lecture, she mentioned to watch out for all patients’ ECGs. If we note the line is flat (think ER-style beeping and buzzing) we need to attend to it immediately. How do you know if it’s serious? Well, ask if they’re feeling ok. If they answer brightly, then it’s probably that the pad has detached as the other option is that they are in fact dead. I’m pretty sure Death Becomes Her is fiction.

A day in the life of an English Student Nurse

11:00 – Break

Lecture all finished, I check my beautifully embossed Filofax from Pen Heaven to see we have an hour break before our next lecture. Some head to the library to catch up on pre-reading and pre-lecture exercise, others complete the post-lecture activities. Others make the most of the cold sunshine to chill out and relax before our next session. Those who live in halls pretty much use the time to make food and have a kip. I don’t blame them. Then again, they live in halls so that’s punishment enough.

A day in the life of an English Student Nurse

A day in the life of an English Student Nurse

A day in the life of an English Student Nurse

Finsbury Personal Filofax in Raspberry Gifted by Pen Heaven

12:00 – Lecture

Next lecture. This is all about an aspect of healthcare. So, it could be mental health issues we might face in clinic, it could be talking about learning disabilities we might encounter in A&E, or an issue such as medicine management in the community. It’s practical information we can and will use in placement, which is rapidly approaching.

14:00 – Break

Another hour-long break. It’s a little bit late for lunch but I eat my now-warm salad, finish the last of my creamy coffee (which is still warm of course) and give David a call. He’s busy so I leave a voicemail. We use the time to relax before our team-based learning sessions. These are held in our tutor groups. We’ve been tasked with a presentation which will count towards our overall pass-rate in this particular module – a formative and summative assessment. We work together as a group of five and at the end of each session rate each other’s contribution. We have a great team who all contribute, all speak, and all challenge each others’ ideas. It’s difficult not to give full marks when everyone’s so keen and brilliant.

A day in the life of an English Student Nurse

15:00 – Team-based learning and ranking each other’s effort

Team session. Here we talk about ideas of healthcare. We debate, discuss and explore a topic such as dementia awareness and each team gets their opportunity to give their thoughts. This session we need to rank what we prioritise in life. As we all hail from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries, everyone has an idea on how we should prioritise them, ranging from freedom to make our own choices, to family support, to shelter and good food. Putting them in order we all agree – to a point! When we present in front of the class we’re honest that, although some things are easy to rate, we couldn’t agree on the last few options. At the end of the session, we mark each other’s contributions.

17:00 – Hometime traffic woes

Time to leave. It’s rush hour so getting home takes 45 minutes, roughly how long it would take me by train anyway. The life of a student nurse isn’t all glam, y’know.

17:45 – Tomorrow, tomorrow, I hate you tomorrow

David texts me while I’m driving saying he’s just about to leave work, so I reply once I’m home. I amend my whiteboard and add any changes to this week’s plan. The Filofax is updated with room changes and upcoming assignments. Then, I start my post-lecture reading and activities. The cats purr around my legs demanding food so with all changes made I give them a late lunch.

18:45 – David comes home, cats are ecstatic

David gets home. We talk about what to have for dinner and settle on ginger chilli salmon with yet more spinach. He heads downstairs to the gym for an hour or so while I make dinner. The cats circle like vultures, hoping for scraps.

20:00 – Downtime (it’s not a real thing now)

With David back and showered, we finally sit down to dinner, talking about our days and what we have going on. Usual married coupley stuff. After eating we pop something to watch on tv (I didn’t say Ex On The Beach you said it not me) to relax – I really really cherish these moments we have together. There’s nothing like cuddles on the sofa with that boy. The cats are mad keen on getting to our plates so I tidy up while he gives the cats their dinner.

A day in the life of an English Student Nurse

21:00 – Bedtime for any student nurse (at this time? YES.)

Seriously, I’m exhausted. Not so much physically, but my mind is racing. I have pre-lecture research and reading to complete before tomorrow’s student nurse skills and more bioscience style lectures, and we have two bioscience tests this week to prepare for. Our scores are all compiled into a league table and our group is suffering. We need to be On It to ensure our tutor doesn’t get worried we’re all thick, so I take my laptop to bed for more research, and David soon follows. I have a shower before sleep for extra snuggliness – there’s nothing like snuggling down all fresh and clean.

22:00 – The end (until tomorrow)

It’s lights out. The Binxie howls at the door purely because it’s closed and as a cat this is unacceptable. It’s time for human cuddles, though, and sleep. We leave the blinds open and watch the constellations sweep through the inky blackness, as lights on the horizon slowly switch off one-by-one. The alarm’s set for 6:45am. Lather, rinse, repeat (as needed). I probably won’t sleep all night, waking up at about the time the Orion constellation passes by the bedroom window. It’s tough to sleep when there’s so much pressure. But, such is life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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