As I started my first year at university to undertake my nursing degree in mental health nursing I looked around and thought – I don’t fit in!
What am I doing here – a 37 year old with a background in the travel industry?
Surrounded by a majority of people in their twenties who all seemed so knowledgeable on nursing I felt so behind and out of my depth! As the year passed and I overheard people talk about things they had done on placement or listened to them talk so informed in lectures etc. In honesty? – I still felt I knew nothing compared to them.
By second year however I had passed all my exams and placements and started to feel hang on I can do this I do know stuff – different stuff! Just because I can never remember which way round the sections are or if a medication is an anti-depressant or anti-psychotic straight off doesn’t not mean I wont make a good nurse. One staff nurse on placement gave me sound advice, she said you will learn what you need to learn for your job in your job as you will be seeing it every day. As a student we are bombarded with a constant changing supply of medications and illnesses and practices to learn, we cant remember it all!
Eventually I got the hang of the sections and most of the medications (although sometimes I still have to use the BNF.)The main thing I learned however from colleagues and other nurses on placement, but mainly through my own observations of these groups, was that it takes all sorts of nurses to make up good nursing care.
There are so many different branches of nursing, for example in mental health you have acute wards, recovery or assessment units, community teams such home treatment and crisis. There’s elderly care, CAMHS, eating disorders, early intervention… the list goes on. Each of these departments needs special skills and a special kind of person to do it. Then within that team each patient they see is an individual and will require or connect with a certain type of nurse.
We all have a role to play.
So no matter who you are or what your skills are you will find your niche in time. The beauty of the degree course these days is the mix of placements you get. I was luck as one placement just hit me and I knew where I wanted to work for sure, I’d had an idea I wanted to work with the elderly but my placements confirmed which area for me as some I loved and some I hated. I am pleased to say I am due to start my career with a Dementia Team this year and I’ve never been more excited as I know this is where I belong and I feel confident in my knowledge and skills to really make a go of this and look after the patients in my care with confidence.
You will learn what you need to learn in your time and in your own way throughout the three years of your training. What you will learn and experience in this time will be unique to you – but that’s what will make you the kind of nurse you want to be!