Undergraduate QNIS Prizewinner from University of Glasgow for 2018, Catherine White, tells us her story:
Currently i’m a month into the 3rd year of my nursing degree at the University of Glasgow. It has gone by fast so far and to put it simply…it has been an experience! Being awarded the QNIS Academic Prize was a massive shock and a huge honour. It was especially poignant for me as prior to commencing my degree, my family and myself had benefited from community nursing care, sparking my interest in this particular branch of nursing.
Nursing, as a profession, is radically changing, and I have no idea what our NHS will be like when I qualify. This is exciting and also terrifying. I wanted to use the opportunity I’ve been given by QNIS, to give a glimpse into mine and my friends’ student journey so far, and provide a outlet to voice our fears and hopes for our journey to come as qualified nurses.
What I’ve learned and loved
I have come a very long way from 1st year. I remember being so scared of placements; having a limited idea of what I’d encounter and limited experience in clinical scenarios. I’d look over everything I’d learned at uni, prior to starting, and often not sleep well the night before my first day. One of my most embarrassing moments was on the first day of my first community placement. I was so nervous…completely and utterly terrified. I thought I was so organised, yet when I arrived and was getting changed, I realised I had accidentally grabbed a navy pillow case from the ironing pile, instead of my navy uniform trousers that were sitting next to it. Luckily my mentors found this hilarious. That taught me straight away that I didn’t need to be scared; my mentors wanted to guide me…even through stupid mistakes like this one.
Another lesson I’ve learnt came recently. Being awarded the QNIS academic prize gave me a surge of self belief. I have never been very confident in my academic work, and to be recognised made me feel more confident in my own ability, than ever before.
Community nursing has taught me so much; more than I can summarise in this piece. I have loved and felt privileged by the experience of being welcomed into patient’s homes.
During my community placements, patients have helped me understand their perspective of how their varying conditions affect their lives. This is an insight I could never learn from a book, and I value it immensely.
Making a positive difference, big or small, in a patient’s life has been the thing I’ve loved the most about nursing. As humans we are so much more than physical beings, we have a mind and emotions that need just as much care as our organs and systems do.
The many dimensions of health was emphasised to us from the very start of our nurse training. Being on placements has emphasised how vital this is to me. Simple things that make a patient smile and feel cared for, can have a positive effect on their health. Caring for more than just the physical health but for the person as a whole is proven to have better outcomes for the individual. It brings us joy too, as we have been part of the team responsible for that positive difference.
Finally a massive lesson I’ve learnt is that there is support all around you on a nursing course….which is especially useful at exam time! As nurses we are already compassionate people, and this doesn’t just extend to our patients but to our friends as-well. I’ve been lucky to have amazing family support and to have made amazing friends on this journey. The love and support we’ve given each other, after a hard day on placement or are just when we’re not coping with work, has made the difference and gotten us through.
What I’m scared about
As an English person who intends to work there in the future, the fall in student nurses for the second year running is concerning. I wonder if this is due to the bursary being removed in England. As studying nursing is a full-time program, working on-top of it is difficult. For those supporting families or without financial support from relatives, it must be daunting to make the financial commitment.
Another fear expressed to me by fellow students is regarding our future wages. Recently the pay freeze was stopped but many people in my class have expressed fear over another freeze occuring. Net satisfaction with pay has decreased in recent years and myself and fellow students have noticed too.
Lastly, with Brexit slowly coming nearer, our fears have begun to grow over the effect it will have on staffing numbers. Immigration is important for the NHS as many skilled workers, such as nurses and doctors, have come to work in our health service. Brexit causes us to worry that the changing immigration laws will decrease the number of healthcare professionals and worsen the staffing crisis.
What I’m excited for
I find the changes being implemented to primary care services in Scotland fascinating. On a district nursing placement, the lead nurse for the area, took the time to sit down with the students and explain what changes are planned and why. To be honest I still don’t fully understand all of the changes because there are so, so many. However I’m hoping that the aim of caring and assessing more patients in the community setting, rather than hospital, will be positive for community nursing and provide more routes for job progression.
I am very excited about the many opportunities, in all areas of nursing, to gain further education and become Advanced Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Specialists. Some of my class have already found a specific area of nursing they’re passionate about, and want to progress in. Many of us, including me, still don’t know what area we are drawn too, but are extremely keen to find it, and progress to ANP and Nurse Specialist careers. The increased independence, responsibility and leadership, as-well as the ability to explore a specific nursing area is very enticing.
In summary, there is a lot changing in the country right now and in the NHS. This is scary but change happens and can be good. One thing I know that will not change, however, is the values underpinning the nursing profession. Before I started training I was already in awe of what nurses do, and as each day passes my admiration grows even more.
Recently someone inspirational told our class to defend our profession. He reminded us that through all the changes to come, we can use our voices to maintain the positive parts of our career and work environment. By doing this I hope that we can ensure future care is of high quality and patient-centred, and that our chosen career supports us to deliver this.