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10 Facts about being a Student Nurse

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Nursing is definitely one of the most misunderstood careers and Nursing courses have one of the highest university drop-out rates.

This is because each year tens of thousands of students start their Nurse training without understanding what the job entails and how much time, dedication and love of the job it requires.

Below a is short and concise list of 10 Facts about becoming a Student Nurse alongside things you should consider before you start training as a nurse. I don’t mean to put you off – I’m just trying to be honest! 

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  1. It’s hard work. This is something I can’t emphasise enough. During your three years of training you’ll be working 37.5 hours a week plus doing coursework, research and evidence for practice. If you’re thinking of becoming a Nurse because it’s easy – think again. Besides, it doesn’t just stop there, Nursing is a highly academic subject and you’ll be expected to develop and learn throughout your career.
  2. You’ll be expected to work shifts. Students Nurses will be expected to work long days (12-13 hours), short days (7 hours), nights and weekends. Your shifts will tend to match those of your mentors.
  3. You won’t have much of a social life. Well you will but it will involve fellow student nurses, books, study and falling asleep by 9pm or drunkenly comparing stories of the interesting things you’ve seen today.
  4. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. You will have the best and worst days of your life during your training. You’ll make a lot of life-long friends but you’ll also hold the hand of your dying patient as they take their final breath.
  5. You’ll be cleaning up every bodily fluid possible. Urine, faeces, vomit, sputum, blood, pus and many, many more your can’t yet imagine.
  6. Nobody else will understand. Your non-nursing friends will not understand your job. They won’t understand why you’ve had a bad day and they won’t want to hear about it. You’ll also constantly dispel the myths that Nursing is “sexy”.
  7. You’ll start from the beginning. Don’t expect to start giving out medications, placing IV lines and ‘healing’ patients on your first day. You’ll start with the basics and progress as you master those. Good patient care is at the core of nursing values.
  8. You can’t write your job description. Your job isn’t just giving out medications and making people better, you’re also a social worker, councillor, cleaner, carer, chef, riot police, negotiator, security, interpreter and a multitude of other things…
  9. You’ll develop a weird sense of humour. You won’t be shocked easily so Nurses tend to develop a weird and slightly odd sense of humour.
  10. Nursing isn’t just a career – it’s a lifestyle. You’ll become a Nurse in every part of your life; friends and family will call you for advice and strangers will ask you to look at their bunions on the bus.

The above list is by no means complete – being a Student Nurse then ultimately a Registered Nurse will affect your life in ways you simply can’t understand right now.  You’ll be present during the worst and best times in people’s lives – a privilege you should never underestimate, people will hang onto every word you say and your actions can and will result in life or death.

Are you a Qualified or Student Nurse? Tell us the best and worst things about your job in the comments.

Education

£200 million NHS training budget could be lost to the private sector

Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

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Money paid by NHS trusts is now being “clawed back by the government”.

More than £200m is lying unused by cash-strapped health trusts in England because of restrictions in the Government’s apprenticeship levy scheme.

The restrictions mean that money from the levy can only be used to fund training costs and not salaries – meaning already cash-strapped organisations are unable to recruit additional staff.

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Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

According to the UNISON report, It Doesn’t Add Up, 79% of the levy money is yet to be used and warns that if this trend continues substantial NHS funding will be lost.

Levy money not spent after two years is reallocated to a central Government pot and used to subsidise apprenticeships for smaller employers – who don’t have to pay into the levy. This means cash from NHS budgets being diverted into the private sector.

Millions sat idle while there are 100,000 vacancies.

UNISON is now calling for the Government to change the rules so levy funding can also be spent on apprentice salaries and the wages of staff employed to cover for apprentices when they are training.

They have also suggested that the money could be used to fund a new extensive apprenticeship programme across the entire NHS for nursing and all the other health professions experiencing shortages.

Sara Gorton, Head of Health at UNISON, said; “Hundreds of millions of pounds are sitting idle at a time when budgets are stretched and there are 100,000 vacancies across the NHS,”.

“There are real concerns about the standard of training apprentices receive, with many carrying out administrative and clinical support roles for peanuts. Ministers must reform the system to ensure money allocated to the health service stays within the NHS and invest properly to ensure apprenticeships play a full role in solving the growing staffing crisis.”

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One in six nursing associates drop out before qualifying, finds report

Despite this trainees showed “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”.

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Only 65% of trainee nursing associates said they planned to work as a nursing associate once qualified.

An independent evaluation of the nursing associate role commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) has found that while there are “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”, one in six nursing associates are dropping out before completing the course.

Attrition rates for trainee nursing associates fell slightly below that of student nurses, with 18% leaving before completing the course.

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While ill health and personal issues were some of the most common reasons for leaving the programme, nearly a quarter (23%) withdrew because they failed to meet the academic requirements of the programme – with numeracy skills cited as a key issue.

One trainee said they found the “attitudes towards the role and the negative feedback about Nursing Associates” challenging.

Only 65% of trainees said they intend to continue working as a nursing associate once qualified as the programme is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming a registered nursing.

Highlighting challenges.

Mark Radford, Chief Nursing Officer, Health Education England said the report “highlights some challenges that we must address to ensure that students such as ensuring the quality and oversight of placements, attrition and numeracy support.”

“We also recognise that further work and research is required to ensure that the profession is supported and utilised in the workforce of health and social care as part of the MDT. I am pleased to be able to report that we are in the process of identifying candidates to be considered as NA ambassadors across England.

Commenting on the report, Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said; “Having had the pleasure of meeting many nursing associates across the country, I am continually inspired by their enthusiasm and dedication for providing care and they should be very proud of the difference they make for the people they support.”

“I look forward to seeing how nursing associates continue to develop and be supported in their work, long into the future.”

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