10 Things I Wish I’d Known as a Student Nurse

"I’ll be honest and say I didn’t particularly enjoy my time at university."

I’m not sure everyone understands how hard student nurses have it.

Unlike a conventional degree, student nurses spend three years juggling placements, assignments, revision, evidence and an ever-shrinking social life.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so, here are 10 things I wish I knew as a Student Nurse and If I could send a message back in time I would. 


Training to be a nurse will change your outlook on life. 

I’m not saying that before my training I was a selfish self-absorbed person, but from week one my training and my current nursing role have made me more aware of the world around me, more aware of the daily struggles of the people around me and certainly more aware of myself and my own needs and limitations.

We see people on both their best and worst days – that is a privilege.

You won’t enjoy every day.

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t particularly enjoy my time at university. A rubbish day, a placement I didn’t enjoy, a difficult assignment, missing friends birthdays or family gatherings – but if you can put up with the bad days the good days more than make up for it.

It’s a difficult juggling act.

Balancing the two roles of Student and Nurse is difficult enough – add in my personal roles as daughter and sister and then my job as a barmaid – and that’s a lot for anyone to handle.

The only people who understand what I went through are the people I studied with, my fellow Student Nurses – I realised late in my course the value in a student community.

Lecturers and tutors are nice people.

The people that I wish I would have gone to sooner with my worries and problems – my personal tutor continues to be a positive influence and beneficial contact 2 years after my qualification- no one goes into nursing education if they don’t like nursing students! Fact!


Don’t be shy, go get involved.

The most enjoyable part of my uni experience was when I stopped worrying about coming across as pushy or enthusiastic- it opened doors I never imagined it would and its help me find what I most enjoy about nursing.

Everyone will ask for medical advice.

It took me a while to just shrug it off and not get annoyed at the incessant questions and funny looks when I said ‘I don’t know’, I now realise it was nice to get some recognition for the job I have and the knowledge I store away – just don’t let them send you pictures!

Your answer should always be – ‘see your GP if you’re worried’.

Not all mentors want to be mentors.

Take responsibility for your own learning, grab onto good mentors and let them teach you everything they can, and make a promise to never be one of those bad mentors! Every nurse was a student once.

Every experience is a good experience.

Even the worst day can teach you something – sounds like one of those fluffy says but seriously some of the most profound lessons I have learnt have come from bad experiences.

After an especially hard day, go home reflect.

The power of positive reinforcement.

Don’t just moan about the bad, praise the positive and make the good great! Let people know when you have enjoyed something, it means they will do it again, and don’t be scared of offering feedback.

Nursing is huge.

There are so many branches and specialities, never settle, keep learning. You will have no idea as a student nurse what role you’ll be doing in ten years.

Nurses are a community – engage with it and learn from others.

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