First year...nearly there!

With only 5 more weeks of lectures remaining, and a daunting pile of assignments, study and exams ahead, things are mentally pretty tough at the moment! I'm so deep into this now and I really want to do well, but the sheer volume of work is forcing compromise on all fronts...maybe that's the point?

This semester is basically a continuation of first semester; a trio of nursing "fundamentals" subjects and an anatomy/physiology course making up the remaining full time load. The nursing subjects are a mixed bag of interesting and mundane. Coming from a career in management, the communication and law/ethics subjects are rather tedious but high workloads. The other nursing subject is mostly practical assessments, work placement and other fun stuff. Anatomy and physiology is a wall of text, terminology, and diagrams I simply have to memorise, but fascinating at the same time.

Student nursing truism

Image courtesy of AMC

Whilst at residential school this semester, I was chatting with friends in my cohort and we all agreed; the workload this semester has really been kicked up a gear. That in itself is not a bad thing, but when I am forced to deliver assignments that are not reflective of my capability simply because the workload is so high, that frustrates me. So much so, I've had the occasional pity-party thinking "why bother at all?". However, these never last long and I just roll my sleeves up and get on with it. Then I started pondering the logic behind this obvious increase in workload; the faculty must know how this affects students, so what are they trying to teach us?

Having grown up with my mother working in full-time nursing, I have a certain insight (albeit vicarious) into how nurses operate. Some common refrains around the nurses station; "there's never enough time", "I hate having to half-arse that job", "just when you think you can take a break, the nurse call button gets pressed", and so on. Are the faculty refining our prioritisation and work balance skills? Are they trying to let us experience the sleep depravation, stress and nagging self-doubt that seems pervasive in the nursing profession, so we can learn healthy management techniques in the safety of university? I think they are! There is so much support coming from the faculty and the majority of my lecturers and tutors are quite obviously passionate about seeing us succeed. I sense a genuine empathy and willingness to help, which is a great motivator to knuckle-down and keep pushing on. The workload is high, and I expect this to progressively increase over the next two years, but for now, I'm being pushed just hard enough to be uncomfortable, but not so hard I feel overwhelmed; it's a delicate balance and I know some of my cohort are struggling more than others. I help where I can, because we're all in this together, and who knows where or when I might need something from them too?

So whilst first year has been a bit of a grind, I'm looking forward to the next two years of training where I will have more contact with patients, more advanced skills to practice and perfect, and more knowledge to drive my decisions (clinical reasoning). As my brother (also a nurse) advised me when I started this journey; it will stretch and challenge you, but the process works, so lean into it, don't fight it, and be the best nurse you can be! Sage words big brother, I'm starting to see what you meant.

Enough navel-gazing! I have a couple thousand words to write, a quiz to complete before Sunday, work placement to sort out, 3 exams to study for and a cup of coffee going cold.


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