Just a Student Nurse?

#HelloMyNameIs Chloe, and I’m a first year student children’s nurse.

It’s Tuesday afternoon. A fellow student nurse and I are walking down a hospital corridor when we run into a woman who appears to be very anxious, distressed and angry, so we begin to approach her to make sure she’s okay. We introduce ourselves and she turns out to be a patient’s wife. She begins to explain how her husband has been in hospital for two days with a fractured arm which requires surgery. However, it keeps being pushed back and she’s unsure as to why this keeps happening. The relative starts to become very upset and distressed, as she needs to be at home to look after her children. This prompts my colleague to offer to find a doctor to investigate why the surgery keeps being postponed; however, a doctor can’t be located. When this is explained, the relative becomes even more upset and understandably worried for her husband. The student nurse begins to calmly explain that she isn’t sure why her husband’s surgery keeps being moved and reassures the relative that she will try to find a doctor as soon as she can to help explain why.

The lady asks my colleague why she doesn’t know about her husband’s surgery, so she says, “Because I’m just a student nurse” to which the lady responds,

“Well what on earth am I doing talking to you then?”

This is when the scenario ended, and the simulation stopped (it was like something out of Holby City!). Thankfully, my friend and I were training in the Simulation Suite and both played a role in this scenario, supporting each other throughout. It’s safe to say that this scenario provided us both with a lot of room to learn and grow as student nurses; however, the phrase ‘I’m just a student nurse’ got me thinking…

What does it mean to be a student nurse?

When I think of student nursing, the first three things that spring to my mind are sleepless night shifts, taking observations and asking a lot of questions! But being a student nurse involves so much more than this; it’s a chance to be compassionate, empathetic, caring, and sensitive towards patients you come into contact with. It could involve small chats with your patients which make them feel valued and important because you might be the only person available who can sit and talk with them on a busy shift. It’s also being that person who is able to calm parents who are stressed and giving them the reassurance they need to help them get through the situation. But above everything, being a student nurse is a chance to learn…

We are told that placement is a valuable part of this course, and it is! As student nurses, we are on placement to learn and experience what it’s like to be a nurse and to be nursed. It enables us as students to ask our mentors questions, which ultimately will develop our skills and expand our knowledge. This, in turn, allows us to become nurses who will go above and beyond for their patients.

I find that when the word ‘just’ is used, it can undermine something and make it feel very small and insignificant. While this is a word I often find myself using, something that I’m starting to slowly learn is that while we aren’t qualified yet, as a student nurse we have a valuable role to play within a team; that role can impact a patient’s care because that small conversation with a patient or that little bit of reassurance we can offer might make a big difference to how they feel.

I’m going to end with this: I’ve found that being student nurse is something to take pride in; it’s a journey we are taking, not only to work towards being a fully qualified nurse but also to get a degree. We are working to help change patient care and the way it is delivered and I’m beginning to realise that we aren’t ‘just student nurses’; we ARE ‘student nurses’ and that is something to be proud of!

Author: Chloe Thomas, Year 1 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),  Maddie McConnell (mm01664@surrey.ac.uk) or Tia Dolphin (td00227@surrey.ac.uk) – we’d love to hear from you!