The next chapter: Starting a new academic year

Last week I was going to post a blog about how I was feeling about starting third year but feeling terrified was my overriding feeling, and no one needs that kind of negativity, right?! I decided to wait until my first day back to write my feelings. So, here goes.

Firstly, I am exhausted! Woah, information overload! But not too exhausted to write to you lovely bunch so may be exaggerating a little! Today we were afforded an incredible opportunity to speak to trusts from all over the country and learn what they want from students applying for jobs. I felt anxious entering the room but left university feeling inspired. I feel like I can be anything I want to be! The trouble is, I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet. I know what my key interests are and know that I want to consolidate my learning in my first role as a qualified nurse but there isn’t currently a specialism screaming out at me. That’s okay though, isn’t it? Here I am referring to this as ‘trouble’. Pardon? This is a PRIVILEGE!

I received encouraging feedback today from representatives from different trusts, as well as from my colleagues. We’ve talked through the benefits of keeping a professional profile and throughout that discussion I flicked through some of my written feedback… Wow! I had forgotten about some of these kind and inspiring words.

I’ve complied a little list of pick-me-up reminders influenced by today’s activities and how I was feeling just last week. I thought I would share them and maybe you might take something from them too:

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  • Try to recognise whether I’m thinking rationally
  • Read over feedback and realise my potential
  • Focus on the positives. I have another year of study and a future of continued professional development – even my weaknesses can be positives!
  • Pat myself on the back. I have shown myself I can do so well already
  • Remind myself why I wanted to nurse and reignite those drivers
  • Get organised. Taking some time now for good planning will save a lot of time and worry in the long run. Time to get everything in that shiny new diary!
  • Take some time to digest ‘information overload’ – break it into more manageable pieces
  • Remember that it is okay to feel a bit overwhelmed – I’m not the only one feeling this way. I must remember to be good to myself and do something that is not nursing-related from time-to-time… Starting this weekend!

Now I approach this academic year feeling like I can achieve anything if I work hard enough. I’ve got this! And you have too!

Special thanks to today’s speakers, exhibitors and organisers for a motivating and informative day.

Padding out your Portfolio

As a student nurse, you are expected to keep a portfolio/professional profile to remember all the amazing things you’ve done, and it’s a good way to show why an employer should hire you.

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My portfolio baby (complete with an unfortunate stain)

Alongside lots of other things like reflections (see Natasha’s blog post), certificates are a good thing to show how great a student nurse you are. Certificates in your portfolio are the equivalent of gold stars on a chart. You’ve really earned them, and they look pretty.

You can get these wonderful holy grails by attending workshops, training events, and educational lectures through university or placement. For example, a few weeks ago I attended the clinical skills event organized by the HEAL society (Healthcare Alliance). And it was amazing!

Alongside with healthcare related students, we learnt skills such as a swallow assessment, how to use an Ophthalmoscope, Neonatal resus, how and why crushing tablets is necessary, and I got to interact with a simulation man! These activities were chosen because they are quite specialized activities, which you might not normally get the chance to learn about. So events like these give you the chance to get that practice in! Plus, most of them were taught by fellow students (speech & language therapists, ophthalmologists, medical students, nurses and midwives!), and peer education is always great! The free pizza was also a bonus..

It’s super easy to get involved with this kind of stuff- you just have to keep an eye out! Most of the events are advertised through your university email, but they can also pop up through word of mouth. So idle chit-chat with your course mates might just lead to some professional development!

UK Awareness Days in 2016

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Autism Awareness Ribbon

Awareness days – particularly in healthcare – are a wonderful way to keep yourself thinking about about the everyday conditions that have an impact on our patients’ lives.

Now unless you are a volunteering monster, you are not going to be organising an event and/or fundraising for every single one of these days. But setting yourself a goal to participate in at least one or two of the days that matter to you is well worth it!

I also like to try and take the name ‘awareness day’ at face value and learn a little bit about what the day wants us to be aware of. Even if you only pick up one fact and pass that on to someone else it makes a huge difference.

This knowledge is crucial as there are so many things that people are living with we may not even take into consideration. It is extremely easy to forgetweb_2_0_graphics__more_ribbons_by_tycity how some conditions just add an extra layer of complexity to everyday tasks and can be exhausting to manage in and of themselves: muscular stiffness, fatigue, dietary concerns, chronic pain, sight and hearing loss, demanding medication regimes and so on. Being aware of this and giving people time and support can make a huge difference to every instance of patient contact.

The website Awareness Days is a great resource to keep up to date with what’s going on and when.

alcoholThis month is the the British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver campaign and Alcohol Concern’s Dry January push. The British Liver Trust has lots of information aimed at healthcare professionals and I like to use awareness days and months to give myself self a push to spend a little time reading up. Otherwise I end up with an unending list of things I’ve been meaning to do for ages – this way I get through it bit by bit and keep up-to-date every year with any new information.

Best wishes to everyone for 2016!