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  • 04 October 2018
  • 6 min read

A nursing degree is not easy but it is rewarding

  • Eniola Akinsanya
    Student Nurse - Mental Health

"Working with elderly patients and that really changed my mind..." Nurses.co.uk vlogger and student nurse, Eniola, explains in this video what attracted her to a career as a nurse and what it's like studying for a nursing degree.

Play video: Eniola explains what attracted her to nursing and how she finds studying a nursing degree

Here's the abbreviated transcript

What initially drew me to pursue a nursing career was the fact that I studied certain subjects in sixth form and I also gained an experience in healthcare.

When I was in sixth form I had to switch my subjects in my second year because I didn't do too well in my first year.

Initially, I wanted to study psychology but when I went into second year I didn’t enjoy psychology, I just was not interested.

I wanted to pursue mental health nursing because that had a psychological side to it, so I thought that if I don't study psychology I'm gonna study mental health nursing.

Applying for a university place

That's what I wanted to do but things don't always go as planned. I didn’t pass the first time I applied for university.

Then when I decided to pursue it for the second time I chose adult nursing because I thought I would have more options.

I wouldn't be so closed off to just one section of the nursing career so I started doing health and social care in my second year of sixth form.

I learnt new terminologies and about what goes on in health care settings.

Gap year - discovering what working in nursing is about

Before I came to uni I decided to take a gap year simply because I wanted to take time to see what it takes to be an adult nurse.

Whilst I was doing this I was applying to other universities as well to get my degree.

I worked at a care home, working with elderly patients and that really changed my mind.

It gave me so much joy to make sure that they are okay, they are fine, that they're well in in every aspect holistically speaking.

Another reason I really wanted to pursue a nursing career was because Nursing is very rewarding.

You have so much opportunities. It doesn't limit you to anything, especially if you’re studying adult Nursing. You're not limited to what you can do, you can always develop further and move on to other roles within nursing.

I like to be flexible and I like to get into different things, I'm quite artistic as well so in that respect I thought nursing might be difficult to get into but it's doable and the reward is amazing.

The hours are lengthy and it was it was very different to anything I had done before, but the thing about me is that I'm quite open to new things and I was quite enthusiastic.

You need to be enthusiastic and you need to be open minded to be able to achieve your potential.

My first steps

My first steps in trying to pursue this career was to study the right subjects.

I think if I hadn't realized that I wanted to study nursing the moment I went to sixth form and chosen the right subjects then I wouldn’t be studying nursing now.

But as I stated before, in my second year I had to choose the right subjects so that I could go into nursing and so I could be able to obtain the grades I needed to get into the university of my choice.

My first step was well was to get experience in healthcare, which really helped me. I didn't work in a hospital, I just worked in a health care setting and that can do a lot for you.

Any experience in any in a health sector is good. Before I finished my first year of sixth form I had work experience in a pharmacy.

Every little thing helps, even just one day’s worth of experience in the health care sector.

Expectations vs reality

Before I studied nursing, the people around me were asking if nursing was definitely the career path I wanted to go down.

It wasn't very discouraging. I was very happy that people gave me this warning and people tried to caution me before going into it because that made me adjust to the degree itself as well as doing the work in health care.

I knew I would be on placement three days a week for around 12 hours a day, so that prepared me.

You're not like every other student. I'm so used to doing things as I'd like to, but with this degree I can’t because this is a professional degree.

The degree itself controls everything you do. I wouldn't necessarily say it was a negative thing but it's just good to adapt and that if anything that nursing has taught me a lot about taking responsibility, being time conscious it's helped me to develop a lot of my skills.

Expectation vs reality - studying

My expectations and my reality weren’t very far off each other with this degree. Because of already being in full time education, and the work I did on my gap year, I knew what I was getting myself into and I was used to being in routines. Expectations vs reality - attending lectures I did struggle at times.

I get supported in my university but the support is different. You’re being spoon-fed when you're in sixth form, whereas you come to uni you're gonna have to use your brains.

I just ask for help when I’m stuck on anything.

I go to lectures at 9:00 a.m. to 5:00. I thought if I didn’t go to my lectures I'll get left alone, however university emailed me saying that as part of the university's policy you have to come to lectures.

In terms of placement expectations versus reality is the same thing, as I had experience before I sort of knew what I was doing.

Expectations vs reality - deadlines

I thought that I wouldn’t have to work so hard to pass my assignments. In my first year I was an average student, however in my second year I’m working harder to become better than average and to be one of the top students.

Advice Everyone says this: get your degree and do whatever you want after.

I'll just say three years of Nursing is a sacrifice that you have to make.

I feel like it’s important for everyone who is going to this career to really think about it. It's not easy.

You have to balance your social life, your personal life and your mental health.

I do doubt myself a lot, however I have really enjoyed studying nursing.

Do the things you love about it still match your expectations of what drew you to this vocation originally?

I feel like when you are not studying this degree it is easier said than done.

With the rewarding aspect of the career I love it.

I would say that my expectations versus reality hasn’t shattered my experience - it’s close to what I thought it would be like.

Useful links about student nursing and university

> A day in the life of a student nurse (Oct 2018)

> How to get into nursing at university (Sep 2018)

> How to write a personal statement for a University nursing course application (Feb 2018)

> How to use your nursing course and placement experience in your first nursing job interview (Jul 2011)

> How to write your nursing CV as a third year student nurse applying for your first nursing job (Sep 2010)