Much of the content on our site is available to our registered users only. If you're already registered, just click the 'Log in' button then enter your email address and password.
If you're not already registered on the site, you'll need to do so in order to gain unrestricted access to all our content. There are two types of registration:
1. If you're a current subscriber, you can register for access to our protected content at no additional cost. You'll need your subscription number in order to complete your registration, which is on the polythene wrapper in which your journal is delivered. Click the Register button to begin your registration.
2. If you don't currently subscribe you can do so now by taking out a secure online subscription. Not only will this give you instant access to our protected online content, but you'll also get every issue of Nursing Standard - the UK's best selling nursing journal - delivered straight to your door. Click the Register button to begin your subscription and registration.
Three nursing students at different stages of training reflect on their experiences so far.
How quickly this year has passed. Last year, I had just completed an access course and was looking forward to starting my degree studies. But as a single parent, I worried about combining family responsibilities, placements and study.
I can now report that these pressures are all manageable and I have completed my first year as an undergraduate nursing student successfully.
Placements are the most enjoyable part of the course, but also the most challenging. You will encounter difficult clinical and emotional situations and experience many opportunities for reflection.
Clinical areas are short-staffed at times, so students who are prepared to help out will be appreciated by colleagues and patients. All that patients want from students is to know that you care. Sitting with a patient who has received bad news or bed-bathing them when they feel unwell can make a real difference to the time they spend in hospital.
University students are more autonomous than college students and the classes are much larger. Students are expected to read widely and undertake self-directed internet tasks. Use your days off to finish assignments and essays as this will avoid deadline panic later.
Nursing assignments must be evidence-based - and this involves research. Lecturers' presentations often include hints about what is required, so listen carefully and take good notes. You will be allocated a personal tutor for each module, so book a time with them to revise a session or discuss a particular problem you may be having.
Make quality time to relax with family and friends. Maintaining outside interests will help you to cope with the stresses of being a student. It has been demanding and emotional - but hearing my son inform his teachers that 'mum makes people better' makes it all worthwhile.
What an emotional day it was when I received an offer of a place at Plymouth University for the DipHE adult nursing course. At 43 years old, with four children, this had to be my chance of achieving a lifelong ambition to be a nurse.
I was excited and nervous walking into the university on day one, but within minutes I was sharing my excitement with others in the same situation. As a mature student I was concerned about essay writing, but the teaching team provided guides to writing and I booked an appointment with my tutor, who gave me invaluable feedback on a draft essay.
Finding ways to fit reading, writing and revision around the needs of the family was a challenge. I wrote my essays in the evening and early hours, when the house was quiet and I could dedicate time solely to the task. It is important to establish how you work best and not worry about what others are doing.
Placements are like starting a new job every few months. While the nerves never go away, you learn about yourself and how you react in new situations. Placements gradually become easier as you learn from previous ones. As long as you look professional and are willing to learn, people will respond well to you. Patients are welcoming and most are willing to help with students' learning experiences.
As I approach the finishing line, yet again I am excited and nervous - this time about the transition to staff nurse. No matter how hard the day has been, I leave my shifts believing that there is no better job in the world.
A fundamental requirement of all nurses is that they should be able to build therapeutic relationships with patients. This is something I learned at a young age when a close family member was admitted to hospital.
Watching the nurses there was the catalyst that started my journey into nursing. This was reinforced during voluntary placements at local hospitals.
My university course has supplied me with knowledge, values and ethics, while my placements have shown me the importance of evidence-based practice. But I do not believe it is possible to anticipate the emotional roller coaster that practising as a nurse involves. The feelings when encountering your first bereavement, for example, are unique to each individual.
Balancing the demands of university, practice placements and maintaining a social life can be strenuous. The support of mentors, lecturers and student colleagues is essential, but need to be complemented by an external support system.
My family and friends did not understand the complexities of my course, but they did understand the pressure I was under and always made themselves available to support me.
As I move into qualified practice, remembering the reason why I wanted to become a nurse is still my motivation.