• 18 October 2019
  • 13 min read

Five tips for Student Nurses entering their first year of a degree

  • Claire Quinn
    Student Nurse and Vlogger
    • Tania-Maria Wall
  • 0
  • 8192

Claire gives 5 tips to help Student Nurses stay on course through their first year, placement and other challenging experiences.

Play video: Claire takes us through her 5 tips for Student Nurses to help them manage their first year of study and placement

Topics covered in this video

0.00 Introduction

1.31 It's not as hard as some people say it is

4.46 You CAN enjoy placement

6.45 Everyone has their Achilles heel

8.43 Placement can be busy - remember to try to stop and take your breaks

11.15 Stick with it - Nursing's a great degree to have

0.00 Introduction

Hi, welcome back to my channel. If you're new here. My name is Claire and I'm a third year adult nursing student at the University of Southampton in England.

And if you're returning back for another video then thank you so much.

So today's video, I want to make a video about the things I wish I knew before I started nursing and there's a lot that I wish I knew before I started nursing.

But I feel like these five points are definitely the ones that I would tell other people before they start.

And if you're just starting in September then hopefully this video will prepare you a little bit for what's to come over the next three years.

So I'm in a bit of a nicer background because I have actually moved houses as such. So I've moved out of student shared accommodation into a house out into private rented halls with my boyfriend Andrew. So that's really, really nice. And we've only moved in less than a week.

So this is my first video here and yeah, it's really exciting and I'm going to be doing like morning routines here, evening routines, day in the life, like all of the stuff in this incredible new accommodation.

So if you're excited for that please subscribe, if you're not already so that you don't miss that on any new videos.

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1.31 It's not as hard as some people say it is

So the first thing I wish I knew before I started nursing is that it's not as hard as people say it is.

And this is a bit of a controversial one, but I get lots of messages from people saying I'm really worried I won't be able to have a social life or a boyfriend or be able to work at the same time. And the thing is, it is possible. All of that is completely possible. In first and second year I had a boyfriend, friends, a job, uni, juggling family life.

We're going back to Dublin. It's all ... While volunteering, while doing sports, while going to the gym, while eating healthy. The list is endless and it is possible.

But people think that nursing is so intense that you won't be able to do any of that. But that is not true. It is completely possible as long as you manage your time. And this is not me preaching or anything because I find it really difficult to manage my time, but I think it's all just about time management and prioritizing what you think is important.

So if you think it's important to see your friends four times a week, then you prioritize seeing your friends four times a week into your schedule.

And I think having some type of calendar, it doesn't matter if it's on the wall or on Google calendar or on a journal. It really, really doesn't matter.

But I think having something where you plan your time is super important because it might seem like a lot when you're on placement and have essays and exams and yes. You can spend 12 hours a day in the library if you want, but that's not necessary. And that's the thing people need to realize is nursing is so manageable, manageable, manageable. Manageable.

As long as you plan your time anyway, whatever that word is. So that's my main point is you can do everything. You can be a woman or a man of all wonders as long as you plan your time and prepare for the future and what's to come.

So for instance, at the moment I'm in a period of lectures and we only have two days of lectures a week, which is hardly anything. And the thing about obviously being in third year, they want you to do a lot of like outside work and they want you to be in the library all the time and everything like that. And that is fine. And we've plenty of time to do that.

So easy to just turn up to the eight hours a week and think that that's you done.

I've done eight hours a week, but that's probably not enough to get a high grade in third year or to qualify. So there's a lot of extra work you have to do on top of that. But it is hard to manage your time. Especially I think even more so when you don't have much lectures for instance.

So I have only eight hours a week as I said at the moment, and then I'm onto a period of 10 week of placement, where I'll go from eight hours a week of work, as in set work by the uni, to 40 hours a week or 37.5 hours a week of actual manual physical labor.

So that's a huge difference.

So if you're not managing your time or doing more work in that time, you're going to find the 40 hours a week really tough because you're not used to working that much. Anyway, that's my first point.

4.46 You CAN enjoy placement

My second point is that it is completely and utterly possible to have a good time on placement. I know there are so many horror stories out there of people saying that placement is awful. Especially in first year, thrown so much into the deep end of work, and that is true to a certain extent.

But all my placements have had their highs and their lows and there's been good parts and bad parts to every placement. But overall I've enjoyed all of my placements and that is not unusual. That is completely possible.

So try and please remember that having fun on placement and making work and getting to know the team and your mentor, and getting to really build relationships with your patients is completely and utterly possible. So please don't think that placement is a really scary thing where you're going to go and everything's going to be horrible, and you're going to go in everyday and feel really nervous.

And yes, that might happen the first few days or the first few weeks, but I promise it will get better and you will enjoy it. It's what you put in, you get out.

So if you put in a lot of effort and you're really friendly and you're really nice, people are going to be nice back to you and people are going to really respond to that.

Well if you come in every day and you're like really sad and not up for working, then of course you're going to get that back. So I'd say with placement it's you get what you put into it. And I think in first year I didn't realize that.

I just was really scared, really nervous and I didn't realize that whatever you put into it, you get out of it.

So if I put in lots of good effort and good vibes, what's the phrase? It's like, your vibes attracts your tribe and that's completely true. As cringy as that sounds, it really is a thing because it's like whatever you put out into the universe you get back. So I think that's something to remember on placement.

And also I guess in lectures with the people you're surrounding yourself with as well.

6.45 Everyone has their Achilles heel 

Point three is a bit contradictory to my last point, but I think it's also as important. It's basically just to tell you that if you're finding something, I'll play some in difficult or you see a patient die or you have to see something that you're not necessarily used to.

Maybe like a stoma bag or a post-op scar or something like that, that might make you a bit squeamish or that you're just not used to.

Or even someone bleeding from the arm, something quite basic like that. Some people still might get squeamish at that and that is okay. Everyone has their thing.

My thing is anything to do with eyes I can't deal with but give me anything, give me sick, give me feces, give me anything and I can deal with it. But mine is, anything to do with eyes or phlegm. I just, count me out. But anything else I can deal with.

But someone might be different. Someone might be completely fine with vomit but then really like not like blood, and you can still be a good nurse. You just will have to get used to it. But at the start if you're a bit squeamish or feel a bit faint, that's completely okay.

Only last summer, or this summer just gone by in June, I was on an a day like trip with the district nurses and I was in the care home and we were doing a leg dressing with the district nurse and I felt really, really queasy and could feel myself sliding down the wall.

And that's when I was just about to finish second year.

So you just don't know when something's going to make you go. Like I can't deal with that. And to be honest, it really was the heat in that case, and also I wasn't used to the type of like ulcer the patient had and I'd never seen it before and I was like, oh my goodness.

And then the heat in the middle of June just completely got over me and I fainted and that's okay.

That's normal too. There's just days where things affect you differently from others and that's okay.

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8.43 Placement can be busy - remember to try to stop and take your breaks

This one is number four and I just want to kind of warn people that placement can get super, super busy and it is quite overwhelming at times.

And I know this also might be contradicting to my second point, but I don't want it all to be like rainbows and everything because it's not.

But placement can get super, super, super busy, but it's how you deal with that busyness, I think is important.

Like I used to be just running around like a headless chicken. It's still super important that no matter how busy you are, you take your drink and you sit down and you have your breaks.

And I know that might seem like no, no, no, but I've got to keep going. I've got to keep going. I used to be like that too.

But if you're not hydrated and if you're not fed, you're not going to do the best job for your patients.

So I think overall just taking time for yourself actually benefits your patient more than you not taking your break and you thinking, oh like I'm doing a really good job, I'm going to keep working.

And I feel like in the healthcare industry, doctors and nurses alike and probably physios too, and OTs or whatever else, but I'm just talking about doctors and nurses. Often people like brag about not having breaks. And I think that's actually really dangerous and not something we should ever brag about because saying I haven't had a break in 12 hours. It's not something to be proud of. Like that shouldn't be something everyone says with pride and joy.

Take your break, sit down. Especially as a student nurse. We're going to be honest, we don't get paid. We just don't. So the least you can do for your body, your mind, your soul, everything is to sit down for about half an hour or hour or however ever long you have.

Even your 10 minute coffee break, and just sit down and try and relax and take a big, deep breath in and forget what happened on the ward and just be at peace with your mind. And then also drinking water throughout your shift. Like who cares if you're going to the toilet 20 times a day, you're keeping yourself hydrated, which is so important when you're in a really hot environment.

And that's probably why I fainted because I was so dehydrated and hot and like, I'm going to faint. So of course that's so important to do.

So. Yeah, just please look after yourself because I think it's just so important and we need to look after ourselves more. And then that way our patients will get better care and we'll be happier.

11.15 Stick with it - Nursing's a great degree to have

And my final point is just to say that nursing is an incredible profession. And even if you're in the course right now and you're thinking, oh no, this isn't what I wanted to do, and I'm really not sure about it. But remember, being a nurse is a university degree.

You are in university, you are getting a degree. Even if you don't want to be a nurse. It was still a really, really respected degree to do.

So my last point is that nursing is an incredible degree. Even if you thinking to yourself right now, oh, I really don't know if I want to be a nurse, that is completely fine. You need to remember that nursing is still an incredible degree to have, even if you don't use it.

So keep that in mind when you're going onto the future and I really hope you liked this video. Thank you so much for watching and I'll see you again soon. Bye.

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  • Claire Quinn
    Student Nurse and Vlogger

About the author

  • Claire Quinn
    Student Nurse and Vlogger

Claire is a student adult nurse from Ireland, but studies in the UK. She makes vlogs for her channel, Claire Quinn - Nursing Secrets, where she shares tips and advice from her own experience as a student nurse.

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