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RCN Students chair Stuart Young says that while the pre-registration years are tough, the hard work will pay off
Over the next three years you will experience highs and lows that will test your resolve and your commitment to the nursing profession - moments of pure elation at the end of a satisfying day, and moments where you question why you ever thought nursing was for you.
Trust me, it will all be worth it when you become a registered nurse.
Working in a clinical environment for the first time can be nerve-racking, especially if your only experience is as the relative of a sick family member. Clinical placements are intended to expose you to vastly different aspects of nursing, from acutely unwell patients in hospital to the increasing numbers of people being cared for in their own homes who have conditions that used to warrant a hospital admission.
Take every opportunity you can to learn from these tasters of nursing life. I would encourage new students to spend time with second and third-year colleagues, using them as a sounding board for advice and guidance.
When I started new placements, I would buddy up with a healthcare assistant because they always know how the ward works and where everything is kept.
When working with your mentors and other registered staff, remember there is no such thing as a wrong or silly question. Rather, you are a fresh pair of eyes, so ask questions, take every opportunity to learn and become the knowledgeable patient advocate that modern nursing requires you to be.
During your course, you will have moments of doubt about why you chose nursing as a career. Such doubts usually surface after a long day or night shift when assignment deadlines are looming. Here is what to do:
Nurses are privileged to be present at the beginning of people's lives, to care for them through all stages of life and often to be present when people die. Keep the patient at the centre of the decisions you make and the actions you take, and you will soon be welcome as a member of the nursing team.