Keep going it’s only second year.

I haven’t been very active on social media the past few months, mainly becuase second year has attempted to trample all over me. Second year blues – that is definitely a thing.

It all started so well with a great module about acute conditions in children. Then placement happened, then it was Christmas and we had an exam to revise for and an essay to do by the start of January. Doesn’t seem like much but it was a stressful time. After this, we went straight back out onto placement for the entirety of January. Back to uni (no breaks!) and the start of two new modules. Back to placement once again in April with two essays and an exam due in May. It felt like there was no time. To make matters worse, a quarter of my class (of 45) failed the January exam and were facing possible failure of the entire course if they did not pass second time round. Even though I was lucky to have passed first time, all of us felt the strain and gladly, no one has been kicked off yet! I am currently on placement now (June/July) and looking forward to finishing.

Not to be a moany post (but it will probably end up like one) but my placements were also not what I was expecting. In first year I had fast paced busy wards which meant thinking on your feet and never having to find things to do to pass the time. This year, the placements I have had have been very slow in comparison. I guess what can be learnt from this is that I enjoy busy wards. I have learnt tonnes on the wards this year for sure, just prefer a faster pace. One of my non-nursing friends did say to me recently that chaos organises me and I think I agree on that one. My parents always mention my scattiness/chaotic way of living life – I find it hard to be organised! Obviously being organised is quite important in nursing so might need to work on that….

On a plus, I have passed all my essays and exams and I am sitting on a 2:1 at the moment which I am pleased about. Mainly because I am a mediocre student! Hard work does pay off – anyone who’s feeling the strain, just keep going and think of qualification. It will be worth it. 🙂


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Throughtout nurse training, we are constantly told to reflect on our practice to improve how we might deal with a similar situation in the future. I have written a few reflections just to tick the boxes rather than actually sit down and think about it. In my last placement, there were quite a few situations that reflection has been invaluable. I had my first crash call where I was directly involved and reflecting on this afterwards really helped me to understand and process what had happened (don’t worry, the patient recovered and went home three days later!).


As I am progressing through my training, these tools are becoming much more relevant to my learning. It is also funny to reflect on the wider picture and think about how you were when you first started to now. In my last placement, my mentor was very good and pushed me to my limits which I know will set me up to be a better nurse when the time comes. At the time, I felt as though I wasn’t doing very well and it was very up and down with good days and bad days. Reflecting on my time there has helped me to see what I can develop more and what I need to just let go because I am human and not everything can be perfect! I know I am really hard on myself, and I always have been, but I need to give myself a break sometimes.


Have you realised that the tools you have been given in your nurse training have helped you in any way? Have you always reflected because you were told to or because you want to?

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The return of second year blues.

Everything has been pretty quiet on my social media channels. I have struggled through this academic year since November after my placement finished. Just about passed my exam and essay that were assessed in January and have two essays and an open book exam (two essay questions) due in May as well as completing a placement in April then going back out onto placement in June after the two week essay/exam period.


I had a week of motivation and then resumed back to tired-of-being-a-student-nurse mode. Don’t get me wrong, I love the profession I am training to go into (and honestly, you can’t survive this course without that underpinning) but the workload is relentless. Lots of people on the nursing course are feeling burnt out and fed up with essays which feel like a measure of your expertise as a student nurse. We all keep telling ourselves that the grades don’t equal a good nurse but the disappointment of a poor grade, or failing, is bitter.

As anyone who is a nurse or training to be one knows, nursing as a profession is not easy. We need benchmarks and good quality evidence based knowledge to deliver care which is safe and of excellence. Even though I struggle, I am proud to be a degree educated nurse. Not because I will have a degree, but because we deserve to be degree educated like all the other healthcare professionals we work with. It is hard but it will be worth it.

nurse proud

Has anyone got any words of wisdom who has come out the other side? Any tips or tricks to get the passion back? Let me know, I know that I am not the only one!

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Health visiting – a bit of a revelation.

I am currently on a health visiting placement for four weeks. It has been three days and I already know that this job is definitely something I would do in the future.

From previous work experience and placements, I had always thought I was into the complete chaos of a paediatric general ward or an acute setting. However, I have realised that I really love being able to have conversation with people, support them and find solutions to their problems. Health visiting encompasses all of those.


So far, I have been on home visits for new births and assisted with baby clinics, baby massage and developmental reviews. There is a lot of child protection and safeguarding aspects to health visiting too and I have really enjoyed the family holistic support that you provide as a health visitor – making sure that mum, and especially dad, are aware of postnatal depression (or asking a mum to fill out a postnatal depression score questionnaire if there are concerns), recognising issues such as housing or finances, problem solving and giving advice on baby development and routines. I think it is brilliant that there is a strong link between health care and social services in this area as well as it really shows and is so effective.

I remember writing a post in July about feeling frustrated about not being able to help families or patients themselves (adolescents with mental health) with their future endeavours. Like I said in that post, sometimes I feel like we are very medically minded when we should be bridging the gap between the medical model and social model of care. This is why health visiting probably appeals to me so much!

I hope the next three weeks go just as well. I am excited to see how this will all pan out as I have had a couple of placements I haven’t really liked that much. It’s all good experience though – I wonder what I will be thinking come third year and starting the job trawl?


Have you ever been on a placement that you were not sure what to expect but ended up loving it? Or have you been on a placement you thought you would definitely like to do on qualification but then realised you hated it?!

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Feeling overwhelmed

As the title suggests….I have been feeling a little bit overwhelmed. I was warned by various outlets that you get to a point in your second or third year of nursing and there is a mental block. I think I have been having a mini one. Nothing too serious, just a lack of motivation and a wealth of procrastination. I have had a lot of things going on outside of my nursing bubble and this is where you truly realise that nursing is your life. I can’t do anything without thinking about how it impacts my studies or placement hours – even being sick!

nursing student life

The pressure to achieve is also high. I don’t think that this is because university pressure me to do well although they want me to, but more a personal feeling of wanting to be a really really good, knowledgable nurse. Sometimes I feel as if I know absolutely nothing. Especially when a coursemate mentions something they have learnt and I sit and stare blankly back at them! However, I am lucky in the sense that the people on the children’s nursing course are all lovely and supportive. I think many of us feel a bit like this. Perhaps it’s the time of year?


I have just finished 2 weeks of a simulation placement which I found highly stressful due to simulated role plays with actors and the work we needed to complete. Role play just isn’t my thing but I can see why it is in the curriculum as you can’t please everyone. I know lots of people benefitted from the role play sessions. I’m much more of a hands on person who learns better in real life situations, as I have done throughout my working life. I’d much rather be thrown into the deep end, get my head down and work like that. Role play always fills me with fear and dread just like those drama lessons in secondary school did – which was quite a while ago now! Due to my lack of motivation, I have got rid of my Facebook app and put my iPad in the other room. Yesterday was the first day where I actually felt like I had done something productive in a long time – well since starting placement 8 weeks ago! I managed to crack some nursing calculations and do some exam preparation for January. I’m one of those people who has to work hard at stuff as I am not blessed with a photographic memory. I have been thinking of ways to learn the abundance of information we have been bombarded with the last few months. I probably need to invest in some coloured pens and do some drawings as I learn visually. I think that’s why I have always found maths hard because I found it hard to visualise the working out bit! My fear of maths actually put me off aplying for nursing for a few years.

nursing meme

Right now I feel like I am treading water but I know that if I put the effort and work in like I did last year I will be okay. Hard work always gets you somewhere! Bring on the late night library sessions….

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Student nurse roles on the ward – engaging with the whole team.

I have just finished my first week on a placement I wasn’t really looking forward to but am happy to say that it is way better than I thought it would be. It is a slightly slower pace on this ward than what I have had previously, but the difference is that there is more time to be taught and talk to nurses and health care assistants about stuff! I think I got used to making my own way on the ward which, due to how busy the ward and staff are and the acuity of the patients, probably isn’t the most accurate way of learning how to nurse. However, I think in the first year it is a good lesson in thinking on your feet and using your common sense. My first placement (which seems so long ago now and was only last year!) I made lots of silly mistakes but this is a good learning curve, if a little steep and embarrassing!


As I mentioned above, I wasn’t looking forward to this placement. I didn’t think that I would find the area interesting and I was convinced that I enjoyed running around like a headless chicken on a busy ward as this ward is a bit quieter. However, so far so good and I have enjoyed being able to be actively taught how to do clinical skills, rather than being shown quickly. Even though I am second year student, I have appreciated that the nurses still explain the rationale behind clinical skills and interventions.

I am very much a team player and happy to help with anything on the ward. Even though I am there to learn, I also think it is really important to hone my “people skills” and work collaboratively. So I don’t begrudge making a bed or cleaning equipment. I have heard and been told by nurses that they have had trouble with some students refusing to do simple tasks as these as it’s not what they are there for. I understand from that point of view if you are only making beds and cleaning and not doing anything patient related (and then you should escalate your situation to appropriate people) but really if a bed needs to be made you might as well make it! Think of it this way – it is still a part of patient care to make a bed. Also, everyone on the ward is part of a wider team to put patients and their families/carers first. If you aren’t willing to do the simple things to help your colleagues, then how are you going to support them properly when you are asked to do clinical nursing tasks? My one piece of advice for anyone who is going on placement is that you should value all staff members on the ward. I have been saved many a time from doing something silly (like trying to microwave a bottle of milk on my second ever day of my first placement) by the domestic staff!

Have you met or heard students complaining about having to do menial tasks? Or are you one of them that feel you shouldn’t be doing it at all? Have you thought about talking to staff who aren’t nurses?


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Second year looms…

I became a second year student nurse today. The term fills me with equal amounts of dread and excitement. Dread because I need to start “knowing” stuff now and excitement because I will be learning branch specific nitty gritty stuff that I love! I have a module that teaches pathophysiology and the nursing intervention required for each disease, condition or . My timetable is chocka block however and I expect I will be living the life of a hermit until February 2015 at this rate.


The leap from first year to second year looks like a wide, vast sea at the moment. I do feel a little overwhelmed with the workload and having to juggle academic with practical is going to be difficult. My diary is already full of reminders to read up on each subject for each week in only one out of the three modules we have! I will need to start my essay for January now and revision for the exams too. Still, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor…!


It seems a little surreal to have made it here. I was so unhappy last year in my previous job and I counted down the days desperately until I left work and begun my studies as a student nurse. Now, I have made a new set of friends, have experienced and coped with stuff I wasn’t sure I could and of course blogged and tweeted this all along the way! I have also changed my mind on what I may like to specialise in. I thought I’d want to do neuro/mental health nursing, however I have developed an interest in neonates/ICU -something I was not that keen on at the start of my course! Nursing is still the best decision I have made. I am looking forward to evolving, learning and experiencing new things. Maybe my “start of third year” post will be me changing my mind yet again about what I’m interested in!



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