• 19 October 2020
  • 12 min read

How To Make The Most From Your Nurse Training Course

  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)
    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Julia Orege
  • 0
  • 1236
"It can be very confusing at the moment, so remember to keep in touch with your course-mates for support."

Learning Disability Nurse, Lauren, offers her advice on how to get the most from your Nursing course, and explains how the Pandemic has affected the application process.

Topics covered in this article


Choosing Where To Study

Finding Your Peer Group

Getting The Most Out Of Your Lecturers



In Conclusion


This article is for people who are considering applying to study nursing at university, or maybe you have already been accepted and are wondering what it will be like.

Has Covid-19 changed anything?

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How could you best prepare for university life?

This article will give you some advice on how to make the most of your time while training, from university life to peers, to lecturers and beyond.

Choosing Where To Study

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we do almost everything in the world, including choosing a university.

Initially you might have thought going away from home might have been the best option, savouring newly found independence and exploring a new city.

However, with some areas of the country in local lockdowns and students in particular subjected to restrictions in some places, this might deserve a rethink.

In order to quality and work as a legal, Registered Nurse in the UK, your course must be accredited by the NMC.

It is always worth checking the NMC website to ensure a programme is valid and approved.

You could also look on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) website for more information.

Both websites offer search facilities, enabling you to look at universities closer to your hometown if you would prefer to now stay home, and study near where you currently live.

This could be an option if you find a lot of the course is now online, or you would like to minimise contact with new people.

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It is also a valuable option if you are in the clinically vulnerable group, previously shielding.

Do check with your GP or specialist doctors if this is you, as they may be able to offer tailored advice to allow you to safely pursue a nursing course at this time.

Perhaps your first choice of university is in an area that is now in lockdown, or subjected to restrictions.

If this is the case, it could understandably make you change your mind and apply elsewhere.

This is up to you.

Do keep in mind though, that this is an ever-changing situation and restrictions could also change by the time you go to university – either being lifted, or implemented in new areas.

In the end, the decision of which university to apply to is always a difficult and important issue.

The Covid-19 situation will be more important to some than others, however it is something you could take into account.

Of course, it also means that there is more of a demand for Nurses and nursing students than ever before, which means you will be entering a well-respected and vital career path.

Finding Your Peer Group

Settling into university life can be daunting.

You may have moved away from home for the first time, living with strangers, in dorms, or a shared house.

There might be many things that you need to get to grips with quickly – if you are moving somewhere new, remember to change your address with your bank, phone, and other important bills.

A massive part of your nursing course will be your peers – particularly the other people on your course.

Although you will all be starting out, beginning your nursing journey at the same time, everyone will be bringing their own skills, experience, interests, and knowledge.

Therefore, it can be very useful to learn from each other during the course and help each other out.

You could ask if people would like to set up a group on social media to keep in touch.

My cohort did this, and found it very useful for asking questions about assignments, exams, and also keeping in touch while we were away on placement.

Always be respectful towards fellow students, accept people will have different views and opinions to yourself, and treat everyone equally.

This will serve you well during your course, when you will be expected to interact and work with your peers during lectures, on projects, presentations, and during placements throughout the three years.

It will also prepare you for the variety of service users you will meet, and diverse people you will work with in your future career.

Don’t forget in the context of your nursing course, your peer group might extend to the multi-disciplinary team you will be working with during your career.

This can include students of other branches of nursing, social workers, operating department practitioners, and occupational therapists.

Your university might organise lectures or modules together to give you an opportunity to meet these students (if only online) and find out more about their roles.

On placement, you could even ask to shadow someone from another discipline for a day if you think it will help in your understanding.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Lecturers

The people who teach you on the course are an important source of knowledge, inspiration, experience, and sometimes to sound off ideas or issues you are having.

If your academic lecturers are also your pastoral support, these issues could relate to things outside your course – rent, health, or a change in family circumstances for example.

You will of course see your lecturers during lesson time, but you should also be able to make appointments with them outside of this if there is something you need to discuss.

Often, a quick email can suffice, or you could organise a meeting online.

Your lecturers will have their own interests and research goals.

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However, they will also be focussed on getting you through the course, and they will know the curriculum well.

This includes things like essay questions, and the latest and best research out there you could use.

For example, if after a lecture you are unclear what is being asked of you, you can ask for clarification or perhaps show a rough essay plan.

Different universities have different ways of providing support, so do check beforehand.

Some universities are happy for you to arrange a meeting at any time, while others prefer to have a set number of one-to-one tutorials per assignment.

Each way will have been chosen to give you the maximum benefit of a lecturer’s time, so do utilise it as best you can.

It might an idea to write down any questions and queries you have beforehand so you are prepared and can use the time efficiently.


Due to coronavirus, it is likely your lectures will be online, at least in part.

They could be pre-recorded which means theoretically you could complete them in your own time.

You might have other forms of learning with a tutor online, such as seminars, meetings, and presentations.

Computer software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams can help larger groups of people to meet remotely, sharing ideas and documents.

Your university lecturers will be working hard to ensure your course can go ahead as much as possible, bringing key aspects of the regular course into the online, remote working platform.

As well as lectures and assignments, your course will likely use exams as part of its assessment.

The traditional exam may not go ahead.

Your tutors might use another form of assessment, such as online quizzes or less formal methods.

If an exam does go ahead, do check how much of the mark will count towards your final grade.

It may be that due to remote working, the possibility of cheating means more weight will be given to other forms of assessment, and the exam will be used more as a measure of where each student is up to in their learning.

This is still important for your lecturers to make sure you have understood and retained information, however it is something to be aware of if you are hoping to ace exams to up your final grade.

The best thing to do would be to check your latest course documentation carefully to see how much of the result will go towards your final grade.

Some students might have decided to stay at home or their parents’ home, and others might have moved to student halls.

Your university should be able to direct you to pastoral support if you need it – your personal tutor should be a good place to start.

If you are moving away to university, of course be aware of any local restrictions that are in place before you move.

Government advice can change very rapidly – try to be prepared for this, and if you are unsure whether you will need to go back home on short notice, it might be worth emailing your tutors to discuss your concerns before you make any definite plans to move.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NMC introduced emergency standards which changed how long second and third year students could spend on placements.

For first year students, the emergency standard meant they could spend 100% of their time completing online work.

These have now been phased out from 30th September, and are being replaced by what is termed a recovery programme by the NMC.

An emergency standard for first years was that the entire first year could be taught online or by distance learning – without going on placement at this time.

The new recovery standards have replaced this with blended learning for first years.

This means the course should facilitate both online teaching, and socially distanced face to face teaching where appropriate.

Due to the recovery standards, your placements might be going ahead as normal when you get to university, or your tutors might have other arrangements in place.

Although the NMC has issued advice, it is universities who are responsible for implementing these and ensuring your learning is unaffected.

There will still be minimum placement hours, as these are set by European legislation rather than the NMC.

Placements will be an integral part of your three year university course.

Therefore, it might be worthwhile having a look at the prospectus to see where your placements might be.

For example, you might have loved working at an NHS Trust and would like to do a placement there.

In this case, the local university would be the most likely candidate.

However, be aware if you would like a placement in a specific care home.

Placements are often organised by the university so they can meet your learning needs – this includes having suitable mentors available, which is not possible at all care homes.

Also be wary of hoping to get a placement where a family member is.

Although this might seem like a good option, working professionally and supporting as family can be very different.

Think carefully about whether you would be able to maintain professional boundaries while at work, or whether it would be best to keep the two separate.

You could also research the length of placements.

All courses must meet the NMC criteria of having 2300 hours in total spent on placement.

However, this can be organised in different ways.

Some courses have several placements of a few weeks, others for months.

Think about how best you might learn, and choose accordingly.

All courses will give you as much experience as possible, with a variety of different people and environments.

In Conclusion

This article has hopefully given you some ideas of how to prepare for and make the most of your Nurse training course.

Always remember to double-check any updates for your university, your course, and your area of the country in these times.

It is vital to follow all public health rules, as well as any your university might have implemented for your safety.

It can be very confusing at the moment, so remember to keep in touch with your course-mates for support.

You should also contact your lecturers or personal advisor if you have any questions, and to make sure you are keeping to the latest advice.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts and worries about becoming a Nurse and what I've said about above - let's chat there!

Oh, and please Like this article to let me know you enjoyed it - thank you!

About the author

  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)

I am a qualified Learning Disability Nurse and Social Worker. I first worked with children who have learning disabilities whilst studying classical civilisation in Leeds. After seven years of working in care, I realised I wanted to take my passion further and qualify at a professional level. I am passionate about giving the people I work with, as much independence as possible.

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  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)

About the author

  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)

I am a qualified Learning Disability Nurse and Social Worker. I first worked with children who have learning disabilities whilst studying classical civilisation in Leeds. After seven years of working in care, I realised I wanted to take my passion further and qualify at a professional level. I am passionate about giving the people I work with, as much independence as possible.

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