What I wish I knew before transitioning to the second year!

#HelloMyNameIsShannon and I’m a second-year course rep and student nurse. So, the transition from 1st year to 2nd year… we all know it’s coming, for some of us its already happened, and yet nothing quite prepares you for it. Here are some things I wish someone had told me before I transitioned and how it felt for me.

Be prepared for the workload and what’s expected from you on placement to increase. This is both a blessing and a curse. You begin to take on more nursing roles, undertaking new skills, carrying out old ones independently and making your own decisions. This is new and scary and intimidating but also a thrill, an adventure, a chance to grow all in one. You are no longer ‘in the shadows’ but at the core of nursing care where actions you take make a difference. You begin to see how you influence patient’s life’s and you should reward yourself with this feeling. Tell yourself you’re proud of how you handled this situation; give yourself a pat on the back for completing a skill successfully; cheer for yourself.

You will make mistakes. And a lot of them. The more responsibility you undertake the more growth you will make. Learn from them. Don’t let yourself be bogged down with what once was… easier said than done, believe me! I’ve found that writing a reflection after a particularly hard shift really brings me back into a headspace where I can appreciate nursing. Writing down how I felt, what I did well in the shift, what I could do differently next time and then doing exactly that. Focusing on the next time rather than the time already gone. This is definitely something I’m still working on. Reminding myself that I am simply doing the best I can. And that is enough… even if it doesn’t always feel like it. The work I am doing makes a difference … There is no such thing as ‘just a student’.

And then we have academics…. OH BOY! All I can say is plan, plan, plan. Write down your assignments, exams and classes. Put deadlines in your diary and plan when you’re going to do work for them. Don’t leave it all until the last minute because you simply won’t be able to complete it to the quality you want. Put aside study days and research things you have come across in placement that interest you or that you are unfamiliar with. The uni won’t give you all the answers, you need to find it yourself. And take pride in knowing that you’re broadening your own horizon by doing this. Knowledge really is power.

Attend touch point days, keep in contact with your tutors and discuss work with peers. Another student’s perspective is always an interesting factor to consider. You could practice your skills on one another…perhaps simulate an aseptic technique or practice a manual blood pressure. You could each take a topic at the beginning of the week, research it and present it to the group to teach each other at the end of the week…that’s my personal fave! Make learning fun because it definitely can be. Finally, if you are struggling make sure you talk to your tutor, cohort lead or course rep because there is always support out there.

Lastly, remember to rest and take care of yourself.

Nursing is hard! Nursing in a pandemic?… even harder.

• Take a bath • Go for a walk • Read a book • Chat with friends • Do nothing all day • Drink your water • Take some deep breaths • Journal

This will be one of the best journeys you go on so appreciate the highs and the lows. I’m going to end this blog post with a quote that I tell myself every single day. “The day will come, and the day will go”. The good stuff, the bad stuff, the scary stuff, the confusing stuff, the ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’ type stuff, all of it… it will come and go. You will be okay.

Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students and teaching fellows 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 Chloe Thomas (ct00633@surrey.ac.uk) or Aliya Stratford (as03037@surrey.ac.uk) – we’d love to hear from you!)