Uni Life…So much more than just a degree!

#HelloMyNameIs Lizzie and I am a current third year child nursing student. ‘Can I be a ‘normal student’ as a nursing student?’ ‘Will I have the time to socialise, join a sport or society and make the most of my university experience?’ are questions that many healthcare students, as soon as you get that coveted university offer, will ask themselves, and are the exact ones that I asked to the years above me, scouring the forums to see if, in fact, I can be a ‘normal’ student.

I’m here to reassure you that yes, you can still be a ‘normal student’ whilst doing a nursing degree, it’s not impossible! I have sat on the committee of a society for the past 2 years as well as regularly attending training sessions and have campaigned, been elected and worked as your Students Union, and yet I am still here, about to go into one of my final semesters, as well as having friends on healthcare courses that have also gotten well and truly stuck into sports and societies, you can get the best of both worlds! But, in some respects you aren’t a ‘normal student’ and that is something to be proud of. Whether you are starting or finishing your journey, you are doing something amazing. You are going out into the world to look after some of society’s cutest and most vulnerable people and that is something you should be immensely proud of, so stand out and make sure people know you aren’t ‘normal’, nursing is you superpower!

Sports, societies and extra-curricular activities have formed a huge part of my university experience – yes fitting them in it can take a lot of planning, but when you find something that you love it becomes easy. A society can become like a second family, while sports clubs help to relieve stress and extra-curricular activities give you the chance to develop existing skills or discover ones you didn’t even know you had!

‘Fitting sports and societies in around lectures is easy, but what about on placement?’ is the question that always follows. The first semester gives you an amazing opportunity to join the rest of the university and get involved before placement starts, but that isn’t your last chance! Before placement kicks in, you may feel like a ‘normal university student’ but that doesn’t mean that once that first semester has passed, that’s it, your chance is gone.

Sports and societies are very understanding of healthcare students and our hectic schedules! In my society, I have adopted the nickname for my sports kit ‘on shift’ as whenever I am asked about future plans, my reply was always ‘on shift’ so it became a running joke but they have always been beyond understanding.

BUCS competitions which are inter-university competitions that happen weekly are always another concern for healthcare students on placement, as how are you meant to guarantee that you are not working on a Wednesday afternoon. The one piece of advice that I can give is, talk to your mentor! During my multiple placements I have had tournaments that I have been selected to compete in, as well as vital competitive training sessions, I talked to my mentor and she did everything in her power to ensure that my shifts were working around my commitments as much as possible. Obviously, throughout everything your nursing comes first, but mentors realise how important it is to have a break from it all and do something else that you enjoy.

Taking part in an extra-curricular activity, sport or society can also massively help employability. You develop existing skills as well as discovering new ones that can be transferred across to your degree. Sitting on a committee helps you with conflict resolution (it’s rare don’t worry), communication skills, public speaking, organisation and so much more, the transferrable skills are never ending!

Having a nursing degree and the experiences and people that you will meet through your nursing degree are absolutely amazing, never take that for granted, but sometimes you want to do something a little different and that is totally okay, do something as a stress release, join a sport for fun, have a fantastic time and go and find something that you love!

Author: Lizzie Rodulson, Year 3 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 (bp00183@surrey.ac.uk), Ellie Mee (em00607@surrey.ac.uk) or Maddie McConnell (mm01664@surrey.ac.uk) – we’d love to hear from you!