Transition – Tips for 1st Years

#HelloMyNameIs Maddie, I am currently studying my 2nd year of nursing. I thought it would be useful to write a blog to you to explain some helpful things and advice about the transition from 1st year to 2nd year. The truth is, is that 1st year goes so quickly it is almost scary knowing that next year will be the last year of my degree! Near the end of 1st year, after starting placement, it feels like university contact is less and this can seem daunting but it such an exciting time, starting placement and learning new practical, clinical skills.

In 2nd year, there are higher expectations, it is up to you to independently learn and motivate yourself. Many students have found it helpful to keeping an address book with a list of drugs that are common at your placement or relevant paediatric drugs. It is also important to reflect on placement and research illnesses/disorders which you have come across during your shift, to help broaden your knowledge.

In 1st year, you will feel like everything has just been explained to you but you are not expected to remember it! We have all been in your position, 2nd and 3rd years are here to support you and give advice about placement or theory because we were once in your place. It is a very new, anxious time but you will get through it and make amazing friends and meet amazing, inspiring staff and patients along your nursing degree journey. In 2nd year you will be taking patients by yourself with your mentor overlooking; this sounds worse than it actually is! It is great experience and for a lot of students it surprises them how competent they feel when this happens. For now, 1st year you just need to take your time to learn, ask lots of questions and develop your knowledge about paediatric nursing. You have 2nd year buddies; take advantage of them, we are here to help and we know it all is so different and new for many of you.

Many 2nd year students even now feel like they lose their confidence when they change placement because it takes time to get used to a new environment, equipment, documentation, staff, speciality and this can make us all feel like we are at the beginning again. However, we all know much more than we think we know.

A big part of 2nd year which excites many of us is the chance to have an elective placement for a month which involves choosing a placement, locally or abroad and choosing something that interests us, whatever that might be. This is an amazing opportunity, I personally would recommend brain storming or thinking about this elective and what you may be interested in doing and it will come round much quicker than you think! We also get a choice about our sign off placement and normally get our first or second choice, it is useful for you to start thinking about this when you start your placements.

I hope you have found this helpful to get a small understanding about certain things which I think you will benefit from being told now so that you can start thinking and reflecting about it all. I know how daunting it is to be in your position but there is so much support out there that you should take advantage of. If you have any further questions please contact me (Maddie), Beth or Ellie.

Thank you so much for reading this – Please be excited for the years to come!! Maddie x

Author: Maddie McConnell, Year 2 Student

Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.

If you’re interested in writing a blog post for us – whether it’s a one-off about something in Nursing you’re passionate on, or as a regular contributor, please email Beth Phillips (, Ellie Mee ( or Maddie McConnell ( – we’d love to hear from you!