I can’t believe I am writing this with only 3 months to go until I am a fully qualified mental health nurse. Everyone used to tell me that my time at university would fly by, but I never believed them until now. It seems like only yesterday I was asking new Graduates what to expect. How cliché, right? Me preparing for qualification means others preparing to start their degree- so here is what I wish I was told as a 1st year BSc Honours student.
I am talking purely from my own experience, which means that I am talking about a health degree. In other terms, not the typical ‘student life’ but instead a 40-hour working week (without pay may I add), as well as assignments that seem endless. I’m not trying to put you off- I promise. Instead I am preparing you for the hard work, the stress & the pressure- but also the success, the joy & sense of pride you will have in your career.
The most important piece of advice I can give is to look after yourself. Self-care is crucial. You have such an important role & are responsible for, in some circumstances, other peoples lives. You can’t expect to provide the best care to someone else if you aren’t caring for yourself. Make sure you have enough sleep, drink lots & lots of water & try not to skip meals despite unsociable hours.
In our field of nursing you are likely to see some upsetting situations. Talk about it. Utilise supervision that is offered- both from university & placement areas. Mental Health Nursing can be extremely challenging so cry if you want to, it’s OK (we are all human after all), but learn to develop your own coping strategies to help manage these overwhelming emotions. It is equally important to look after your own mental health.
It is undeniable that you will need some kind of support at university, no matter what course you are enrolling on to. Whether that is from counselling services, personal tutors or lecturers, placement staff, friends or family. Use it every single one of these people to your advantage. Everyone I’ve listed are there to help you & want you to do well. Trust me, life is a lot easier if you accept the support.
As previously mentioned nursing students have a lot going on. So expect this & stay organised. If you are reading this & know me personally, you will know how super organised I am. I have lists about lists (literally!). Set yourself deadlines that are before your actual university deadline to stop the final week stress. All of that being said, I remember thinking I needed to purchase the entire reading lists in order to be prepared. Over £100 for an Anatomy & Physiology book? No thank you. Save your money & use the library. They have hundreds of books you can use for your assignments & also give you access to e-books & journals.
Most importantly relax when you can & have fun! This degree is, in my opinion, one of the most rewarding. You will be part of a highly respected career with lots of opportunities for progression & continuous learning- not to mention that you will always be needed. This is a lifelong career.
At this point in my training I am feeling very bittersweet. I have a job secured & can’t wait to start that new chapter of my life, but it also seems unreal that my time at university is coming to an end. To all of the 1st year students- enjoy your time at university but also look forward to the magical future ahead.
Love, Kayleigh Rose x