Student Focus - An exciting future awaits

Kate Finnamore offers some advice to first-year students on getting the most from college

Congratulations! Enjoy this exciting time as you begin your nursing career. As a fourth-year I am also experiencing an exciting new beginning – the transition from nursing student to newly qualified staff nurse. When reflecting on my time as a nursing student over the past four years, I put together a few words of advice. Please read and consider the following carefully but, most of all, enjoy every minute of your time in college as the next four years will fly by.

Your first days of college will be exciting and the people you will meet in your course will be a diverse group. Over the next four years you will share classes, placements, laughs and tears. Don’t underestimate the support your peers will provide to you. Respect your classmates and their views and remember there is learning in everyone’s individual experiences.

When you start your placement, try not to be too nervous on your first few days. Try not to feel awkward in your uniform or on the ward, you earned your place on this course and you deserve to be there. Ask questions and be enthusiastic as this will be recognised.

You may not be well received by every staff nurse you meet, brush it off, don’t let them taint your views of nursing. Don’t let this negativity affect the way you imagine your career for the coming years. Don’t let other people’s experiences negatively affect yours. If somebody had a tough placement on a ward, that does not necessarily mean you will have the same experience, as different clinical areas will suit different people. Try and leave your placement at the door when you go home at night, this may be difficult, some days more than others, but it is necessary.

You will find an area of nursing you love. Constantly remind yourself of why you came to nursing, especially on the tough days. It’s okay to cry; this shows you really care. Enjoy humour at the appropriate moments during the day, it’s important to be able to laugh. There will be times when a patient becomes upset, and you won’t have the right words to console them but just simply holding their hand and being there to listen is often enough.

Do not compare yourself to staff nurses on the ward, many of them have extensive experience, don’t expect to be comparable to them after four years of college. Enjoy every minute of your training, one day very soon you will be qualified. Nursing will change you, you will experience life in a very real way during your training, and this will change many of your perspectives. You will meet some incredible people, colleagues, classmates, patients and everyone in between. Make the most of this experience, put yourself out there, make a difference no matter how big or small you feel your contribution is, patients will remember you, long after you’ve forgotten their names. Most of all, be true to yourself throughout your nursing career and become the nurse you aspire to be.

I wish you all the best of luck, and I look forward to meeting some of you on the wards.

Kate Finnamore is a fourth-year general nursing student in Dundalk IT and the student officer for the Drogheda Branch

Student Focus - An exciting future awaits

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