It is getting to the 6 week mark of when I start a paediatric nursing course and I am getting slightly impatient. I have kept myself busy at work (unavoidable) and with packing up my flat ready for a new start and new career in September.
I haven’t always known that I wanted to be a nurse. I was told by people that I should consider it; I was also told by people not to consider it. I guess what I’m trying to say is (and this goes for anything in life) you have to go with what feels right and what is going to make you happy. Such a cliché but it has taken me 25 years to realise this! I think there was always a part of me that wanted to make other people proud of me when in fact I needed to be proud of myself to go forward. Deep.
So onwards. You want to be a nurse? I would say the easiest way to get on a course would be to have loads of work experience and use this to reflect in an amazing personal statement. However, this isn’t an option for people finishing college or career changers or other people who want to be a nurse. First point: you do need to make sure you meet the entry requirements for your chosen universities – usually above a C in GCSE Maths and English and some number of UCAS points from your A-Levels/BTEC/Access course. For your personal statement, all you need to do is find transferable skills which you can relate to nursing. To be frank, my personal statement was rushed, rugged and bloody rubbish! (because I was planning to apply in 2014, and then thought sod it I’ll send a late application) I have no idea what they saw in it to offer me an interview but all I can say is because I went on about those pesky transferable skills. If you can say what it is and why it would be good for nursing, you’re pretty much onto a winner.
Then it’s that horrendous wait as universities sift through 1000’s of applications. So you didn’t get an offer of interview? Get feedback. Apply to more. Go through extra and clearing. There are so many avenues. There are endless ways of getting your little toe in the door and wedging it wide open. Just keep going. In fact, this is a massive piece of life advice: keep going. Wow, this is getting awfully like an agony aunt column. Sorry about that.
You get an interview. Brilliant! Oh but wait there’s a group task, numeracy and literacy tests and maybe a presentation. Cue: complete panic. Not to worry though, the people interviewing you only want to see what you’re about and whether you’re suitable to the nursing profession. I had a selection day that consisted of the tests, a guided tour and a group task. We were then asked individually, but still in the group, why we wanted to be children’s nurses. I was lucky to already have a friend who is a children’s nurse who gave me so much invaluable advice that I felt I did pretty okay in that part of the interview process. You MUST know the role of the nurse and branch you are applying for inside out. The group task was much more difficult as every one wants their voice heard. I would suggest making sure you include others who haven’t had a chance to speak and making sure you wait your turn to talk – even when there is an overbearing person in the group. Being the calm and collected one will stead you well. I am naturally a quiet person but have learnt to project myself a lot better over the years.
And then the final wait and eventually a successful application. If it is unsuccessful, ask for feedback. You can then improve on the points raised and perhaps gain another year of experience which will make your application even stronger.
So, this is my ramble on the application process of nursing. It is my opinion and take on it and I hope that it helps someone somewhere to think, “right, I’m going to apply!” or “I’m going to apply again – this is what I want to do!”. Don’t give up, keep going, keep looking forward, learn from experience.
Most of all, good luck 🙂