Work smarter not harder by understanding your learning style

Most student nurses fall into one of two camps….

Either you dread the academic work & feel more comfortable on clinical placement using practical skills. Or you’re terrified of the wards and prefer learning new things through reading & theory work.

There is no right or wrong way to be, but one of the best things you can do now (if you haven’t already), is to find out what type of learner you are & which method is best for you to learn new skills.

You can find out what your learning style is through the free VAK learning style questionnaire at https://www.hfe.co.uk/learning-styles-questionnaire/

Once you know this, you can adapt any subject you may find difficult into the learning style which works best for you. I’m more of a visual learner so I know if I’m struggling to grasp a new skill, like taking a manual blood pressure reading, then I ask someone to show me again or to explain again in more detail so it sticks.

There is nothing more disheartening than spending hours listening to lectures on pathophysiology & not being able to recall half of it when someone asks you a question.

 Your learning will happen in many different forms over the course of your degree as well, not just in lectures or clinical placement. There are numerous podcasts, YouTube channels, reality TV shows which can all contribute a lot to your training. As a visual learner I found watching these TV shows & YouTube video explanations of different procedures really helped my learning & also with remembering what I had learnt!

Other forms of learning may be from talking with your mentors about patients, or discussing different conditions & case studies with other people on your course, or even from blogs or Facebook groups & posts about student nursing.

This will also develop your reflective practice which is an essential skill for nursing.

Most universities teach reflection including different theories & models at the beginning of the nursing degree, & recommend students keep a reflective journal as part of this module. You can use any old notebook as a diary to record events from university or placement which you felt contributed to your learning in some way.

The Student Nurse Guide Reflection Journal was designed specifically for nursing students to improve their reflection skills.

Each page includes space to record the date, location, key learning point to help you quickly recall & find the subject, & read around to help develop your knowledge of key nursing skills as a result of your reflection. A reflective writing outline is also included on every reflective account page to help guide your writing & keep you on track.

It also includes a real example of a student nurse’s reflective account to draw from if you get stuck. Featuring a modern contemporary design in A5 size, it is easy to keep at hand ready to record any learning opportunity as it happens, with approx 180 lined pages. This notebook is a perfect way of keeping all your reflective accounts in one place throughout your degree.

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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Is Fear Actually Your Friend?

I barely slept the night before my first ever day on clinical placement.

My mind was racing….what if they ask me things I don’t know, will they think I’m not good enough to be a nurse? What will they ask me to do, I’ve never worked in a hospital before, I don’t know anything!

Driving there I could feel my hands shaking, my mouth was dry, I felt sick. Even though I was lucky enough to have my first placement in a community hospital with 2 other students from my course, I was still terrified.

After getting a tour of the ward & meeting my mentor, I finally started to relax a bit. She made it clear that we weren’t expected to do too much on our first day & we would be spending some time learning the daily routine of the ward.

Looking back, we were incredibly fortunate to have such a supportive mentor & placement, which allowed more time for us to learn basic clinical skills. 

I’ll never forget the first patient who walked into the minor injuries unit that was attached to the hospital. He’d sliced his thumb whilst working nearby & our mentor called us in to assess him.

The wound was only minor & just required cleaning & dressing. But my stomach dropped through the floor when she asked which one of us would be doing it.

We haven’t been shown how to do it properly, or even watched a nurse correctly clean & dress a wound yet, I thought. How do we know what to do or what to use? Luckily my friend volunteered after the rest of us said no, & our mentor talked us all through the process whilst supervising her. 

5 years later & we still laugh about that day, & about how scared we were of just dressing a small cut. But really what we were scared of was the responsibility.

We had a uniform now, we were responsible for providing care, patients trusted us to get things right.

That’s what we were really scared of & you should never lose that. 

Having that fear when you’re caring for a patient & you don’t know what to do is a good thing.

It makes you recognise where you might be out of your depth, & you might need further support & training, so you can provide the best care for them.

Of course, a lot of that fear could just be that you’re learning a new skill & still building your confidence in your abilities.

But this is normal & carries on well beyond qualifying, as you go on to learn more & more new clinical skills as a nurse.

Now let’s be clear – fear, nerves, & anxiety are all not the same thing.

They might all be seen as negative emotions, but when fear & anxiety get to point where it feels like it’s taking over your daily life it could be a mental health problem. You can find further information & support for this online & from your GP.   

Feeling nervous when faced with something new is normal & healthy. If you are not nervous & are complacent this can actually be dangerous.

You are not recognising your own capabilities which could result in you working beyond your competency, with the potential of harm being caused as a result.

For example, you may be asked to help a patient with eating. You may have seen other staff assisting patients with eating, but you have never actually been trained on how to asses a patient’s swallow function, or how to feed them safely. However instead of feeling nervous about this & letting staff know you have never done this before, you agree to help & start to feed the patient who begins to choke on their food. 

Although this seems a pretty extreme example, unfortunately it does happen. That’s why fear is not always a bad thing. It can create that middle ground, from being totally overwhelmed by fear….to being so relaxed you aren’t even concerned of potential consequences. The key is to recognising fear & using it to guide you.

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? How can we support & help you? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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3 Steps To Finally Ending Procrastination For Good

If procrastination was an Olympic sport I would absolutely have a gold medal.

We all are guilty of procrastinating over something, despite how important it is or looming deadlines! Procrastination levels are pretty much at an all-time high right now thanks to winter & lockdown 3.0.

But did you know there are 2 types of procrastination & which one can actually damage your health?

Typically people think of procrastination as putting off writing your assignment & instead making TikTok videos, scrolling Facebook, or binge watching Netflix. This is passive procrastination. But if you’re the type of person who tells yourself you can’t start your work until you’ve cleaned your room, walked the dog, or spent hours first drawing up a schedule of how you plan to write your essay then you’re an active procrastinator. Active procrastinators tend to also be perfectionists….they can’t sit down to write their assignments until their working conditions are perfect. In fact they actually prefer to work under the pressure of an impending deadline & need that adrenaline rush to fire them up…..even if it means staying up all night to get it done.

Studies have shown that active procrastinators actually perform better academically when compared to passive procrastinators.

Both types of procrastination can damage your health if left unchecked. If you are an active procrastinator you are more likely to feel guilty or ashamed about not doing your work. These emotions can then lead to further demotivation which fuels procrastination even more leaving you stuck in the negative cycle. In extreme cases this can cause further stress, anxiety & depression.

For some people persistent procrastination could be a sign of an underlying health issue such as OCD or ADHD.

If you are seriously struggling with procrastination or suspect you may have ADHD or OCD then please speak to your university or GP for further help and support. It is possible to overcome procrastination before it seriously starts to interfere with your well-being.

The 3 simple steps to finally end procrastination for good:

1. Admit you’re procrastinating.

Sometimes you don’t even realise you are procrastinating especially if you’re an active procrastinator. You might be making excuses to yourself as to why you can’t start your assignment yet. Things like having to wait till the kids are in bed so you can focus on your work, or agreeing to help other people when they ask you for a favour. These feel like valid reasons but really they are excuses. You can still do some work even if you’re interrupted 100 times by the kids. You can tell people no because you’ve got to do your uni work. Making excuses & not prioritising your work is a form of procrastination! Waiting to feel in the right mood or waiting for the right time to do your work is procrastinating. Once you start to become aware of it & noticing the patterns, it will be easy to break the habit of it.

2. Identify why you’re procrastinating.

There are a few main reasons why people procrastinate. The most common are thinking the works not urgent & can wait for now, you’re not interested in the subject of the work, feeling bored or tired or stressed. These are usually associated with passive procrastination.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed & don’t know where to start, fear of failing, not being ready or having the skills you need to do the work etc. then you are more likely an active procrastinator. By admitting & pinning down the main reasons why you are procrastinating you can work out the best solution for you to beat it. If you realise you deliberately procrastinate because you can only work under the pressure of a tight deadline & are still producing your best work, then a solution could be setting your deadlines 2 weeks before the actual deadline. When you are initially given work to complete tell yourself & record your deadline as 2 weeks before the submission date. That way you still have a safety net if anything happens & you also have time to submit your work for review & make any changes beforehand.

3. Apply all the following strategies to stop procrastinating.  

You might find some of the strategies to stop procrastinating are more effective than others. If you are aware of when & why you are procrastinating, it might be easier to see which strategy would be more effective. Procrastination is a habit you have gotten into over a long time, so don’t expect an overnight transformation. It will take time to rewire your brain from your old patterns & to form new habits. If you are struggling a lot then apply all the strategies. It’s always best to just throw everything at it to really overcome it for good.

  • Start with giving yourself a pep talk. Forgive yourself if you feel guilty for putting the work off or ashamed for not starting sooner. That doesn’t matter now. Remind yourself you are only human & doing the best you can, with what you have available to you right now. Remember it is about making progress with the work not perfection. You can do this.
  • Visualise your success in completing the work. Think back to the last assignment you finished & submitted & how good that felt. Remind yourself you’re capable of repeating that success. Look at the bigger picture, why you are doing this work, why you started this course & why you want to be a nurse. Keep a visual reminder or symbol of this near your workspace if you can, to help keep you motivated.
  • Write a list of all the work you have to do. Now prioritise it & put in order what is due in first. Even though it may be tempting to do other work that is easier or more interesting, you must focus on the work that is due in first. Once you know what is top of the list, put the list away so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Keep your focus on one piece of work at a time. Break down the work into smaller steps you need to take to complete it. Don’t spend too long on this, it doesn’t have to be a perfect action plan or schedule, 15 minutes mapping this out is plenty of time. If you still feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, ask for help from your personal tutor. You might just need a better explanation of the work or clarification on something to feel more confident in tackling it.
  • Find a study budy. Ask your uni friends or a family member to hold you accountable for your work. Ideally this needs to be someone you really respect & would be embarrassed if you had to admit to them you hadn’t done the work. This strategy can also work really well in a group setting as peer pressure is a great motivator. But be careful. This method won’t work if it’s a family member nagging you every second of the day, which could result in arguments & more resistance to the work.
  • Eliminate all temptations/distractions. This one gets me every time! Even if I tell everyone not to disturb me, lock my bedroom door, put my phone on silent, leave the radio off….basically do all the things, I guarantee I still end up getting side tracked. Usually I go to get a drink & think “oh I’ll just check my phone quickly.” 2 hours later I’m still messaging people & scrolling on facebook arghhh! I’ve learnt the only way is to now leave my phone locked in my car all day to stop the temptation to check it & getting side tracked in the process.
  • Set small incentives & rewards. These don’t have to be big rewards you can only have once you’ve submitted the work. Decide on a small incentive each day. It doesn’t matter how much work you’ve done or how good it is, or even how long you’ve spent on it. If you at least sat down & focused on the work & made some attempt to tackle it, then you should reward yourself. Remember progress not perfection. These incentives can just be small things you enjoy like watching 1 episode of a series you’re currently into, a short walk outside, a glass of wine at the end of the day. Just be honest with yourself. If you know that short walk will turn into a 2 hour hike, or that 1 episode is going to turn into binge watching an entire season for the afternoon, then leave it for the end of the day.
  • Just start by writing a sentence & build momentum. Even when you’ve done all of the above & still can’t face sitting down to your computer, or even worse you’re just staring back at a blank word document here’s what to do. Tell yourself you are just going to spend 2 minutes writing something. It doesn’t matter what you write, whether it’s the assignment title page or complete rubbish, just take 2 minutes to write a few sentences. You can even set a timer for the 2 minutes. This method always works as it tricks your brain. 2 minutes is a short enough time that feels achievable & not overwhelming. It is also just a long enough time for your mind to engage in the work & overcome that initial barrier of starting. You will find that 2 minute timer has gone off but you are still writing because you have gained just enough momentum to carry on with the work. Once you start just keep going, even if you think what you are writing is utter waffle!
  • Final tip. Once you start writing never ever stop & edit what you’ve written. Trust me you will waste all day writing & rewriting the same paragraph. Just keep going, get everything you can think of typed out, even if you think it’s not good enough, or you’ve got big gaps between sections. Only once you have a very rough first draft down, should you go back & start editing & re writing.

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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Always Follow Your Dream

Last month I finally achieved a dream of mine which truthfully began in 2016.

When I first began my nursing degree in 2015, I didn’t know what area of nursing I wanted to go in to, or what type of nurse I wanted to be. All I wanted to do was to help people. I figured I had 3 years to decide & at the time my goal was just to get through the degree & qualify!

My first clinical placement in my second year was on a gynaecology ward, where the majority of patients being admitted were for surgical procedures & investigations, miscarriages, hyperemesis gravidarum, & gynecologic oncology complications.

I’ll never forget one patient in particular who had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer which had already progressed to stage 3.

Despite being so unwell & dealing with a difficult diagnosis she was always so kind to all the staff & other patients. I spent a lot of time providing care for her as her nursing needs were quite complex, & I got to know her & her family really well. At the time cancer to me was something I didn’t know much about or have much experience of. But I knew it was the one thing most people are terrified of…..as to them cancer was a death sentence. My patient ended up being transferred to another hospital for treatment & although I knew her prognosis was very poor at the time I always wondered what happened to her.

Whilst on the ward I was lucky enough to spend a day working with the gynaecology clinical nurse specialist who was incredibly compassionate, skilled & seemed to know everything! I also spent some time at the chemotherapy day unit & realised that despite cancer being this huge scary thing….I was fascinated by it. Seeing the different journeys that patients take from symptoms to diagnosis to treatment, all the different teams and healthcare professionals involved in the process, the treatments & clinical trials & improvements always being made, the finance & research involved….it was like a fire had been lit inside me which refused to be put out.

I discussed everything I learnt with my personal tutor whose actual nursing background was oncology. She was pleased to see that I had found the one area of nursing I was truly passionate about, but she spent the next 2 years telling me not to go straight into oncology when I qualified! She warned me how challenging it was & advised it would be better if I did general medical ward nursing first, to gain experience & find my feet before specialising in oncology.

She was right, but I still couldn’t put that fire out.

I wanted to learn & know everything about oncology. I wanted to be one of the nurses I had watched at the day unit, listening to & reassuring their patients undergoing their first chemotherapy treatment. Seeing those patients who had walked in terrified but left laughing & joking I thought……“I would LOVE to do that job!”

So I ignored everyone’s advice & applied for & succeeded in getting a newly qualified post on an acute oncology/haematology ward. 2 years later & I’m still on the same ward & I still love it. Of course it has been challenging & yes I struggled a lot in the beginning. But my passion for it kept me going during the hard times. I learnt not to rush to achieve all the additional skills like blood transfusions &  IV’s, but to ensure I was experienced enough to be competent and proficient when finally undergoing the training.

There was still one big final goal which at times I thought I was never going to learn enough to achieve.

To be able to give patients chemotherapy & help their fight against cancer. It took a lot of studying & even though I’ve only scratched the surface learning about chemotherapy & the many forms it takes……I can finally say I am a chemo competent nurse!

So always follow your dream, despite what people say, despite how long it takes, despite all the setbacks & times you quit. Keep Going. Find what lights you up inside & follow it. It will carry you through the hard times & push you on when you want to give up. If you don’t know what your fire is yet, don’t worry. Just keep learning, keep exploring all areas….you will find it.

Oh & my ovarian cancer patient who I first met & cared for in 2016? I bumped into her on my ward when she came in for treatment last year. She remembered me as a student nurse & hugged me, & I was so glad I got to see her again & see how well she was that I cried afterwards in the toilet.

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? How can we support & help you? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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5 quick & simple ways to instantly re-energise your space & boost your mood during lockdown

January 2021.

UK in lockdown AGAIN. Schools shut. Remote learning. Placements cancelled.

And AGAIN you’re stuck at home….juggling assignment writing, online lectures, virtual placements, family life, and even home schooling the kids. How any of us will be left with a shred of sanity after this will be a miracle!

If you are feeling completely overwhelmed please read this post on helpful tips to managing such uncertain times and where to get more help and support.

Of course we all understand how important it is to stay home & really it’s a very small sacrifice to make to keep everyone safe. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy spending nearly 24 hours a day indoors. Unless of course you have a house big enough to have your own office, a classroom & teacher for the kids, and a gym, pool & indoor cinema to keep you all entertained! But if like me you don’t own the dream house yet and want some quick, easy and free (or nearly free) ways to bring fresh energy and positive vibes to your home, bedroom or working spaces then read on.

1. Play music to energise

woman wearing black sleeveless dress holding white headphone at daytime

Normally I love listening to BBC6 music when home alone but the minute all the family are back & competing for airspace, I have to turn it off just so I can hear myself think! Its tempting to try & maintain a quiet household during lockdown to get kids to focus on their schoolwork & for you to study. But really its all about using music to your advantage. Play some fun happy tunes to switch up the energy in the morning & get yourself pumped ready for another day. Then maybe some low background easy listening jazz for chill vibes whilst you work, or even classical music to help calm the kids….its all about trying different things to find what works for you as a family. Maybe you prefer your local radio station as your background companion, but be mindful as to how many news broadcasts are played out. Even if you’re not paying much attention to it, your subconscious will still be listening & absorbing negative media which is not helpful to anyone right now!

2. Hygge yourself

food wood dawn people

Hygge is the Danish culture of making your life life cosy and bringing more contentment and better well being. Its all about adding in the the small comforts… wear soft loose clothing (just leave the webcam off!), fill your space with warm snug blankets & cushions, light your candles & use your favourite scents, switch up your lighting with different lamps to create  a cozy glow, make your favourite tea & experiment with different herbal ones that can help you feel more relaxed. The aim is to surround yourself with small comforts which all add up to you feeling more relaxed whilst you work.

3. Freshen up

personal organizer and pink flowers on desk

One of the quickest & easiest ways to bring in fresh energy is to add fresh flowers or plants to your workspace or even a bowl of mixed citrus fruits. Not only will they brighten up the place, they are also a good reminder of Spring hiding just around the corner & help connect you to nature & boost your mood.

4. Display your favourite treasures

craftswoman working with drafts at table with stationery in workshop

We are all guilty of only using our favourite drinking glasses/mugs or pens or candles on special occasions. Well my friend that rainy day you’ve been waiting for is here, so it’s time to bring them all out. That also goes for any favourite artwork, trinkets, photos or souvenirs you may have stashed somewhere safe. Don’t worry about displaying them all perfectly, just bring them out where you can see them. The key to deciding on which things to display is to ask yourself does it bring you a small amount of joy or happiness when you see/use them? Again its all about trying different things to find what works for you, you may find that actually storing away old photos, artwork and gifts etc. gives you a fresh release.

5. If in doubt…..clean

person wearing white pants and white socks standing beside brown broom

Sometimes just the thought of cleaning is exhausting. At times it can even feel like never ending soul sucking drudgery! But the times when you feel overwhelmed & don’t know where to start, or you’re feeling frustrated & full of negative anxious energy….that’s the time to roll up your sleeves. Just pick one small task, e.g. washing up, putting laundry away, or vacuuming & set a timer for 15-20 minutes so you don’t get trapped into a 2 hour full house clean! This gives you enough time to complete a task which leaves you feeling more accomplished & in control, as well as burning off that negative energy through moving your body. You’re also left with a cleaner, fresher & brighter area which allows more energy to flow through. P.S. I often find this works if I’m stuck on something when writing assignments, as the break away from my workspace combined with physical movement gives my brain a chance to come up with a new solution or idea

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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Q&A’s

Despite everything that’s happened this year I still cannot believe how quick it has gone now, and next week we’ll be entering the last month of 2020!

Even though we’re all facing tough times and the future is still very much unknown (is there finally a cure for Covid?!). I’m already starting to feel the excitement beginning to build up in anticipation of a new year, and seeing the back of 2020 (who’s with me?). Combined with official permission to get into the Christmas spirit and planning the official launch of The Student Nurse Guide Society (SNGS) for January 2021, things are really starting to ramp up around here!

I cannot wait for everyone to finally see inside SNGS and start helping you and supporting you all, in the ways you need it most!

For my VIPs who have already signed up you will get exclusive insider access on 11th December 2020 a full month before everyone else.

There are still a few spaces left if you want to join them but you have to sign up by Tuesday 1st December. If you’ve been thinking about joining for a while, don’t wait until it’s too late!

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We’ve already had a few emails from members with common questions so I have included them all below for you. If you have any other questions or just want to find out more you can comment below or email thestudentnurseguide@gmail.com

1. What exactly do I get when I join The Student Nurse Guide Society?

If you join by 1st December 2020 you will get exclusive first access on 11th December, a month before everyone else. When the society opens officially on 11th January 2021 you will get instant access to the 3 main camps: Home & Money, University & Placement. Within each of these sites are mini workshops designed to quickly teach you, and give you the tools to help you learn, organise, prepare, and achieve success in each area. You can go through each workshop as many times as you need and at your own pace at a time that is convenient for you.

Although the society is huge and covers everything you could possibly need as a student nurse, it has been designed and split into specific sites to help you navigate and quickly access whatever you need first, each time you log in.

In addition you also get monthly online coaching sessions to support you and exclusive access to the private facebook group to connect with other student nurses and qualified nurses to provide support and online mentorship. There are also bonus mini workshops to help prepare you for interviews, starting your degree and prepare you for your first role as a qualified nurse.

2. Why have I never heard of it before?

The Student Nurse Guide Society is a brand new concept developed by nurses for nursing students. I created it after qualifying as a nurse in 2018 and found it a very difficult process to navigate and without the level of support I was expecting. Most degree programmes center around self-study and problem solving alone. Which can be extremely time consuming when trawling through so much “advice” which is not relevant to you, and frustrating when you don’t even know what the right words are to google search! I wanted to create a new way for student nurses to just go to one place to get hold of the right, relevant information, quickly and easily, and also in a way that is relatable and easy to understand. I also wanted student nurses to feel more supported and understood and to not feel alone especially now covid has forced so many into distance learning.

3. Why is it so expensive? Why is it not free?

If you join by next Tuesday 1st December, it is only £99 for LIFETIME membership. It will NEVER be this price again and will cost £249 to join next year. This price is due to the huge value you receive in return for joining and due to the running costs of The Student Nurse Guide Society. Don’t forget when you join you will learn how to cut costs as a student, where to get freebies and save money, and even INCREASE YOUR INCOME! £99 is a small investment to become a lifetime member when you compare to paying the NMC £120 every year just to work as a nurse. Becoming a member right now is a great investment you can’t afford to miss out on, and will be there to help through every stage of your degree.

4. What if I’m already in my final year? Is it too late to join then?

It’s never too late to join, even if you’re only a few months from qualifying! By building your self-confidence & emotional resilience skills, guiding you through the different options and career paths as a nurse, developing your interviewing skills to land your dream job, you will easily transition from student to registered nurse.   

5. What if I want to be a nurse but don’t know where to start? What if I’m not at university yet?

You don’t have to already be a Student Nurse to join The Student Nurse Guide Society. In fact joining the society is a perfect starting point on your journey to becoming a nurse, as you gain the most up to date information on the entire process, and find out exactly what you need to do to get into university. You will also be able to find out first-hand what it’s like being a student nurse, what’s expected of you, and be able to start making plans ready for university and student life.

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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A Student Nurse Christmas

Christmas I find is a lot like marmite…you either love it or hate it.

Most people do love it but I have to confess I am a total Grinch! One thing we can all agree on though is that it is a stressful time of year for most people.

So how the hell do you have an amazing Christmas when you’re a student nurse?

To start with you only have 2 weeks off (if you’re lucky) & most likely you’re exhausted after just finishing a long placement block. PLUS you probably have an exam to revise for or an assignment due in January, & you need to work extra bank shifts whilst you’re not at uni or on placement!

Yet somehow you are still expected to make time to visit family, buy & wrap all the presents, decorate the house, buy a new outfit or Christmas jumper, plan & cook the Christmas dinner, attend all the Christmas parties, meals out, pantos, school plays etc.

But this year will be different & a lot of Christmas plans & traditions might not go ahead, depending on what the Covid regulations are at the time. So it may be a lot quieter than last year…….or you might decide that after such a tough year you want to make this Christmas the biggest & best one yet.

Either way the most important thing is to remember it’s WHO we spend Christmas with…NOT how we spend it.

I’ll never forget during my second year in 2016, I had a placement on a very busy & emotionally challenging ward. It was a few weeks before Christmas, & whilst on my break in the canteen, I overheard 2 consultants discussing which French Alp ski resort they would be spending Christmas in. I felt so jealous & ashamed listening to them, as I could barely afford the Christmas turkey & had been worrying about how I was going to pay for presents.

But as it turned out I found a way of making cheap & unique hand-made presents which my family loved & still have now! All they really cared about was the fact they got to see me & spend time with me, not how much money I spent on buying them presents.

It’s so easy to get carried away & feel pressured into having the perfect Christmas, when all that really matters is being with the people you love…..even if it has to be via zoom this year.

You can find more information & tools on why you should & can delegate the to do list, what to prioritise for Christmas, & how to have a luxury one on a budget by clicking the button below

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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5 Steps To Overcoming Uncertainty

I thought all this would be over by now.

Autumn is my favourite time of year. It’s a new season & a new term, a fresh start for everyone just beginning their degree. I’m sure you were all looking forward to “getting back to normal” after this year. But of course 2020 still has other plans.

A lot of students who were expecting to return to uni & lectures have suddenly had to go back to distance learning. Last month has been full of uncertainty, miscommunication & overnight changes. Being a student nurse is hard enough, & with a global pandemic on top its even more chaotic!

So how do you navigate such uncertain times?

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How can you plan for anything when at a drop of a hat those plans are binned? What do you do when universities & placements can’t give you straight answers, or don’t even get back to you?

I don’t have the magic answers you need but here are 5 ways on dealing with uncertainty to prevent stress overload.

1. Be as flexible as possible

I can guarantee that every single person has been disappointed this year multiple times. Everyone has cancelled plans & holidays & events they were really looking forward to. You may well feel what’s the point in making plans because we don’t know what’s going to happen & will probably have to cancel. Instead of feeling bitter & hopeless about your situation, learn how to adapt & stay as flexible as possible. This doesn’t mean try & plan for every eventuality but be prepared if suddenly your placement is cancelled, or you can no longer meet your uni friends. Accept that change is inevitable & stay open & flexible to it, as its more important now than ever before. When things change, take a moment to process it, talk to people who matter & get more information & advice if needed, & then decide how you adapt to this change. Developing these skills will make you a better student & a better nurse!

2. Don’t Hold Onto Specific Outcomes

A lot of students expecting to graduate this academic year have had to delay it by 6 months or more. This can feel really disheartening after all your hard work. But its important to focus on the fact that you are still graduating & you will finish your course to become a qualified nurse. You cannot control every single situation, learn how to go with the flow instead of fighting it. You will still achieve your goal, it just may look different to how you expected it. By letting go of your expectations & focusing on what’s important will help you manage any last minute changes.

3. Let your emotions out

Do not feel guilty for being upset or disappointed or scared. If you need to have a good cry or scream in frustration then let it out! No one can tell you what you are allowed to feel, or that you should suck it up & be grateful its not worse. These are your emotions & its important to feel them & let them out instead of trying to push them down! Some people find that writing out how they feel gives them a release, or recording a voice note of all their anxieties they can’t say out loud to someone, helps them to process their emotions.

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4. Don’t Spiral Into a negativity pit

Once you recognise & accept your emotions its important to take action. Maybe just letting them out & writing them down was enough & you already feel better. If not, then you must reach out for further help & support. This doesn’t always mean talking to someone, there are a lot of self-help tools & resources available. So long as you do something to help yourself & not dwell in depression or anxiety. This could be more self-care, or leaving negative group chats, or limiting media exposure.

5. Reflect on challenges you have overcome.

We all need a reminder sometimes of just how strong we really are. Especially when things seem really tough & you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything. Take 10 minutes & a quiet space to sit & think of a really difficult time in your past, or when you were faced with a tough challenge. Try to recall as many details as possible & think of how you felt at the time. Now remember what you did to get through that difficult time or how you overcame the challenge. Even if things didn’t work out the way you expected, or you felt you didn’t handle it well or even failed….you still got through it. You still learnt from it & developed your resilience & coping skills as a result. You may even look back & realise how far you have come & how things have improved since that memory.

Reflecting on past events serves as a reminder of what you’re capable of & that you are strong & determined enough to overcome this uncertainty.

Although reflection is a basic human behaviour it is also a key fundamental of nursing. Developing your reflective practice is an essential skill for nursing & will also help you in your personal life. Most universities teach reflection including different theories & models at the beginning of the nursing degree, & recommend students keep a reflective journal as part of this module. You can use any old notebook as a diary to record events from university or placement which you felt contributed to your learning in some way.

The Student Nurse Guide Reflection Journal was designed specifically for nursing students to improve their reflection skills.

The Student Nurse Guide 2020

Each page includes space to record the date, location, key learning point to help you quickly recall & find the subject, & read around to help develop your knowledge of key nursing skills as a result of your reflection.  A reflective writing outline is also included on every reflective account page to help guide your writing & keep you on track. It also includes a real example of a student nurse’s reflective account to draw from if you get stuck. Featuring a modern contemporary design in A5 size, it is easy to keep at hand ready to record any learning opportunity as it happens, with approx 180 lined pages. This notebook is a perfect way of keeping all your reflective accounts in one place throughout your degree.

Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? What questions do you have that you are too afraid to ask? Send us a message or comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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The C Word

I know you can’t go an hour without hearing the dreaded C word, & I don’t want to spend too long writing about it now, as I’m well aware there are billions of resources already available if you needed them.

But I have to write this post on it, as it’s been the cause of radio silence for the last 2 months!

Normally I work in oncology/haematology but when cases first started in the UK I volunteered to work the new covid-19 ward….and then promptly caught coronavirus due to lack of appropriate PPE!

I was ill for 3 weeks, hospitalised for a short stay & still have lingering symptoms now. But I am very grateful that I was one of the lucky ones & only had it mildly.

I am very sad to say that some of my colleagues were not so lucky.

Our charge nurse ended up in ITU on a ventilator but thankfully recovered & is now home. His husband sadly also fell ill & had to be ventilated in ITU. But he did not recover & passed away. Our healthcare support worker & her husband, also both had to be admitted to ITU & ventilated. They both passed away.

I never once thought back in February that this would hit us so hard. That I would lose my colleague like this. They are more than just colleagues, they are our second family, our work family. To say that it has been difficult & these are tragic times is an understatement.

I know that many, if not all of you, reading this right now are struggling. Trying to come to terms with loss.

I have been saying to anyone who will listen, we have to look after each other. We have to support each other & help each other in any way we can. Everywhere teams are being split up & rearranged beyond recognition. Everyone is scared. Even those mean bed managers who always shout at everyone!

All we can do is try to pull together & be understanding of others.

Throughout the UK all the student nurses, registered nurses, managers, healthcare support workers, doctors, paramedics, domestics, hospitality staff, porters, lab techs, dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists etc. we are all one giant team working together to beat this & we must make sure it doesn’t beat us!  

Image by Thomas Morgan

A special mention in particular has to go out to all of those in the 2017 cohort, & the appalling treatment & sacrifices you have endured. Whether you opted in or out, it was a choice you should have never been forced to make. There are a number of petitions running calling on the government to write off this ridiculous student debt that should never have been allowed in the first place.

Please sign & share the petition below.

Image by Jessica Collins

Moving forward with The Student Nurse Guide I want to continue to support students & share positive news equally with useful information on covid-19 that is specific to student nurses. I am all too aware of what it feels like living non-stop coronavirus, so rest assured this space won’t fall into that trap! Connect with The Student Nurse Guide & let me know what you would like to see more of? Would it be useful to read what it feels like having covid-19 from a nurse’s perspective? Self-care tips for those on placement? How to stay healthy & focused on academic work at home? Comment below with what you want to know.

For more help & support please subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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10 Ways To Get More Money Fast

Are you living on the breadline? Over the weekend I was scrolling Facebook (number 1 favourite hobby) & came across a post from a student nurse on how they were struggling & barely making ends meet. They wrote about how they had to eat their kid’s leftovers & leave bills go unpaid because they simply had no money.

No Money Sucks.

The comments from others showed just how many were in the exact same boat and desperate. I remembered all too clearly that feeling & the little “tricks” I used, just to get by. Like using pay @ pump to fill my car knowing that I only had £1.89 in my bank account. But as the transaction would take a couple of days to go through, I could still get the fuel I needed before payday. Which, by the way, I don’t recommend as you eventually get charged by the bank for insufficient funds, so it ends up costing you more money. But like I said…desperate.

Having No Money Makes Everything More Stressful.

Not being able to cover your bills & worrying how you’re going to get through the month is hard enough. Let alone trying to revise for an exam or get through another 12 hour shift on a busy ward! Everyone knows that training to be a nurse is tough, but when you throw financial worries into the mix it’s like adding petrol to a burning bonfire! Even those who are lucky to have good financial support & savings still find there are numerous times when they struggle. Unexpected bills seem to crop up all the time as a student nurse.

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Don’t Be Ashamed Or Afraid To Ask For Help.

No matter what your circumstances are I guarantee you are not the only one who has been in this situation, the important thing is to reach out for help. Speak to your personal tutor at uni & see if there are additional hardship grants, or funding you could apply for that you may not have known about. If you feel you can’t approach your personal tutor, go to student services & also ask your friends on your course how they manage with money. They might be able to advise you on extra financial support available and how to apply for it.

The thing is if you don’t ask you’ll never know!

This also applies outside of uni; speak to family members to see if they can help you, even if it’s just keeping your kitchen stocked up with food. Contact your local council to see if they can help with reducing your council tax or help with housing costs. Speak to your gas/electric/water provider to see if you’re entitled to any discounts & if you’re behind on the bills they may even write them off.

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10 More Ways To Get Money Fast:

  1. Most student nurses make money by working shifts as a Health Care Support Worker for their local trust on the nurse bank. There is usually a fast track job application process once you start at university and some trusts pay wages weekly so you can get it sooner. As you can pick which shifts you can work to fit around uni & placement, it’s a flexible way of making additional income. However, be cautious if you receive benefits & with student finance/bursary payments, as they are calculated on your income you could end up worse off by working & even having to pay money back!
  2. Are you entitled to benefits? Although you may think you’re not, or you are already getting everything you’re entitled to, it’s always worth checking. Entitledto and Betteroffcalculator are free sites which can check for you. You can even adjust your circumstances, like if you were to move or take on part time work, to see how these changes may affect the amount you receive.
  3. Sell on Facebook marketplace, & in local buy & sell Facebook groups, or on Gumtree & Ebay. Popular items to sell include toys, baby items, furniture, electricals, clothing, shoes/boots, & sports equipment. Spend an afternoon clearing your house of everything you don’t use/need anymore & you’ll be surprised how much cash that can quickly add up to!
  4. Sell things you make/bake/create online & at local craft fairs. If you already have a hobby making jewellery or designing handmade cards or baking cupcakes, you can turn that into cash selling online via Facebook & Instagram & other sites like Ebay & Etsy. This can be an easier & more profitable way to make money around university & placement hours.
  5. Don’t fancy a side hustle? You could write & sell a one off story to newspapers & magazines for about £100. Join the FeatureMe! Facebook group to find requests for stories from publications, on a range of subjects from going on a nightmare holiday to meeting the prime minister! You can also check out Take a Break & Real People who also pay well.
  6. Think you haven’t got anything worthwhile to sell? Rummage around for old phones & books lurking in backs of cupboards. Even old iPhones that may not work anymore can be recycled & earn around £100 – £50, check Sell My Mobile & CeX for the best prices. Amazon Marketplace is one of the best sites to sell books & some that are older might be hard to find & could end up fetching quite a bit.
  7. Do you have a driveway & live near a train station, airport, football ground, or city centre? You could make money renting it out for people commuting to use as a car parking space during the day & earn up to £200 a month. Check out JustPark, Parklet, YourParkingSpace, ParkOnMyDrive, & Gumtree.
  8. Check if you can claim for a delayed or cancelled flight. Even if it was going back up to 6 years ago, if the flight was over 3 hours late, you may still be able to claim up to £510. Use the free tool at moneysavingexpert to check if you’re eligible and how to claim.
  9. Go through your budget & bank account to check for any old direct debits that you may still be paying & don’t need to. Look out for things like old gym memberships that you aren’t using & subscriptions to apps that you don’t really need, or paying for mobile phone insurance when you already get it as a bank account benefit. Scrutinise your budget and shop around for better deals on utilities. It’s easy to switch and there’s lots of comparison websites like uswitch to find you a better deal which could save you £100’s every year.
  10. Switch your bank account & get up to £175. Again shop around to find the best deal for you as most require a minimum monthly pay in, check comparethemarket, moneysupermarket, and gocompare to see what each account offers. Don’t forget to find out what benefits a student account can offer as many have free overdrafts & railcards which can also save you £100’s if you use them.

For more money tips & support subscribe to The Student Nurse Guide.

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