Let me start by apologising to any first and second-year student nurses who might stumble upon this and think they’ve made the worst decision of their life. I’m certain these are only my experiences and not those of every third-year student. I’m sure they don’t all feel like they’re on fire drinking a cup of fire in a room that’s on fire in hell, which is also on fire.
Because guys, it’s been tough. I’ve never been more demotivated in my life about anything, and this is from someone like me, a notorious quitter. Demotivation is my baseline and I’m way, way under it. Third year has been, well, tough. It’s been challenging in ways I’ve not experienced before, more like brain drain than physical tiredness.
I should start by saying that during summer last year, David and I separated. You know, one of the first things that all three hundred of us were told in our first lecture three years ago was that we were going to end up with wrinkles, grey hairs, and some of us will go through radical life changes that will essentially see us end the course as different people. And doncha know that’s exactly what’s happened?
Nursing is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. Nursing school combines all that stress of placement with the commitment of self-directed study, and having to work to earn money too. I haven’t had time to myself in a long time. I haven’t had a life for an even longer time. Perhaps it’s my attitude to study. I feel a tremendous pressure to get the best grades I can. I feel I owe it to the NHS, and to you the taxpayer, to be the kind of nurse you’d want to look after your parents, your children. After all, you’re all paying for me to train. How could I possibly do any of this half-arsed?
My friends and I were chatting today at lunch and we all feel the same. The pressure is on because we are now leaders. We take those impressionable and sometime questionable baby students and we have to coach them.We have to do this to pass our degree. We have to lead and influence and make others follow and listen. We have to have skills that feel impossible.
So with all that pressure, and the lack of free time, and with a massive health complication, David decided it was time to part ways, and I agreed. He has the cats because they legit hate me, and I’ve moved into a lovely little room next to the hospital (I’d rather run into A&E naked with a bucket on my head than stay in hospital accommodation). We still share cat GIFs and make arrangements for cat squishes. Our relationship is mainly cat-based at this point.
So, let’s carry on the little summary of what’s happened so far.
Back to uni and we’re introduced to a new tutor. This is really difficult on us as for a few weeks we’re like little lost sheep. Your tutor is your pastoral support and a real lifeline for the challenges that come up during the course so to lose them feels a little bit like being dumped. Too soon?
We’re given a run-down of the year, it’s all about leadership and management in preparation for our sign-off placement next year. We’re also informed of the new NMC Code of Conduct (2018) that’s seen the role of the mentor being abolished with coaches taking their place. All nurses will coach and mentor students. A good idea? Based on evidence? Who knows at this stage. Nurse student retention is low, admissions due to the bursary being cut are lower still. Is this the best plan? I honestly have no energy left to care.
We’re given details of our first assignment, a narrated PowerPoint presentation on leadership. It sounds tedious and difficult, and we’re all just raring to go and get to placement.
Finally placement details are released: I’ve got the district nurses in the next town over. Remember those scenes of nurses in wellies wading through the snow? That’s going to be me. I’m not hugely enthused as community nursing isn’t something I’ve enjoyed thus far, but I thought I was going to hate my mental health, health visiting and diabetes placeemtns and they were some of the highlights of the year.
I have my first interview for a staff nurse position for when I graduate! It’s on a ward I love with nurses I adore, so I’m keeping everything crossed that I do enough to impress them!