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Finding support in your fellow student nurses

 Natalie Brooks 28 Nov 2017 Eastern

I decided to study nursing because when I was growing up I would often visit my younger sister in hospital. She has a rare gastro genetic disorder, called NF2, and learning difficulties. All my memories of these visits involve how amazing the nurses were and how they helped my sister and my family. These were very difficult times and they have helped inspire me to want to support other people through times like that.

Once my sister left the children’s service there seemed to be lack of awareness about how to support her learning difficulty in the adult healthcare environment. This left my sister scared and anxious about healthcare. This is why I chose to study adult nursing as I wanted to change attitudes towards people with learning difficulties in these settings.

When I first started my course I was aware it would be challenging for me academically, due to my dyslexia. But with the support of the dean of students and an academic advisor I have developed my academic skills, such as critical thinking and analysis. This has been demonstrated in my increasing grades in my assignments between my first and third years.

What surprised me most about my course was the university’s approach to the programme, such as using an evidence-based learning class. This involves using case studies and students being given weekly or fortnightly presentations to fellow students, linked to issues involved in these case studies. I found these classes have developed my confidence and my research skills in finding evidence to support practice.

The course also used a whole person approach, which meant we were able to develop essential skills to help support our adult patients who may also have learning difficulties.

Studying nursing posed several different challenges to me - academically, emotionally, from a health perspective, financially and socially.  For me, it was the ability to look after my son and give him guidance and support which was most challenging, while also studying full-time and having to work as the bursary barely covered my living expenses.

There were many things I enjoyed about my course, including amazing lecturers, interesting and moving talks from service users and being able to support patients. But three things in particular stand out.

The first is the unique friendships I have made with fellow students on the course. We have been through so many ups and downs but we support each other and will be friends for life.

Second is my module five placement. Having worked in healthcare for a few years I felt emergency care wasn’t for me and I wasn’t looking forward to this placement in an emergency assessment unit. But then I met my amazing mentor Julie and her team. Julie is outstanding nurse. Her ability to support and understand patient needs ensures they receive the best care.

My third most enjoyable moment during my study has been being involved with the RCN as a student information officer. I have been able to attend RCN Congress and be involved in the pay campaign and support other students to get involved as well.

Now I’m graduating I’m particularly looking forward to my emergency rotation post and the challenges it will bring, and working at the James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. I am also going to get more involved with the RCN and take on new roles as a learning rep and eventually a steward.

To people just starting or half way through their nursing degree I would say always ask questions and access the RCN Library as it has amazing resources. My biggest tip would be that your fellow student nurses are the best form of support – lean on them when you need them most. They will understand best the pressures you are under as you go through this journey together.

Page last updated - 05/09/2018