Alan, a final year Adult Nursing student, tells us about his journey to nursing, including some of the key things he’s learned along the way.
The best thing about being a student nurse is learning and seeing new things every day. In some instances, I see things that I would have never imagined before. For example, I recently viewed a video fluoroscopy which shows swallowing in real time using x-ray. It was incredible! If I wasn’t a student nurse, I may have never have had the chance to experience things like this.
I had many personal experiences prior to studying nursing where I saw healthcare professionals, such as nurses, making a difference in people’s lives. This made choosing nursing an easy choice as I wanted to help make a difference, too. I applied for several universities, however, Anglia Ruskin stood out for me. It has a great reputation for nursing, and the lecturers that I met were very welcoming and enthusiastic. This really encouraged me that I was making the right choice.
On the whole, the NHS is understaffed because of lack of funding. It’s challenging trying to cope on a ward where there aren’t enough nurses to attend to patients in an ideal time. This can be really tough, as we all want patients to be seen as soon as possible. However, the most challenging aspect is probably breaking bad news. We have to try to keep people calm and comfortable, and make sure they understand what we’ve told them, as often the topics can be tough to comprehend.
As I’ve gone through my training, I’ve had to work closely with doctors and the rest of the MDT [multidisciplinary] team which has improved my communication and management skills. There have been instances where I have had to plan my patients' care, and use my leadership skills to determine who of the nursing staff will be doing what.
I have learnt that although nursing is about caring for your patients through good communication, there are also many other skills involved. Working in the Critical Care Unit made it clear to me how important physical observations are (eg blood pressure, heart rate). As most patients in critical care are sedated, they cannot visually or verbally express a deterioration in health. Therefore, it’s down to nurses to see a change in health through clinical observations.
So my advice to someone thinking about applying? It’s a tough job at times, but it’ll be one of the best decisions you ever make.