First year student nurse Leah Rees, who will begin her studies with Swansea University's College of Human and Health Sciences this month, has shared her feelings about becoming a student nurse in the Nursing Times. She said...

From the intense yearlong access course, the interviews at the universities, to being told I have a place at my first choice university, the last 18 months has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve gone from excitement of the new life and career I have chosen, to crippling self-doubt about my capabilities to fulfil my goals. With just a few weeks to go before my September 2014 start date these emotions are more present than ever.

The morning I received the email offering me a place, my mind went into preparation mode. What do I need to buy? A new bag, pencil case, notebooks, pens, and especially a new planner! I would not be able to function without a planner to organise course work, placements, work, and possibly some sort of social life (I wish!).

But if there’s one thing I know I need to invest money in, it’s a good pair of shoes. They are an absolute essential when working in a hospital. Having worked as a healthcare assistant (HCA) in my local hospital I am only too aware that after a 12 hour shift on a busy ward, the last thing you need is pain from a pair of ill-fitting shoes. There has been many a day I have come home to soak in a hot bath, begging my feet for forgiveness.

As soon as I started the application process, I was hit with numerous forms to complete, the paperwork that goes hand in hand with higher education. Since having my place confirmed, this hasn’t eased. The process of applying for student loans and the NHS bursary has begun…Filling in the forms and using the online service to see how much I will be entitled to per year slightly scares me. I will need to do a lot of budgeting, planning and consideration when it comes to finance. Others seem to manage and I know it’s possible but those figures will take some getting used to!

I also needed to think about banking, research student accounts to see which one would be most suitable for my needs, and make contingency plans for when pay day seems to never come or for when the car needs that surprise repair. In the weeks leading up to becoming a student nurse I have been speaking to friends who are either student nurses or qualified staff. 

Hearing about others’ experiences is both exhilarating and frightening. I know that my own journey within nursing will be personal, but it is helpful to hear about these
experiences. As September is nearing and my excitement is building, I can’t help but have slight fears about what will be the next three years of my life.

What will the other students be like?

Will I fit in?

I never felt these fears joining my access course but suddenly irrational fears are emerging. I wonder about my placements…

Will I get on with my mentor?

Will they be patient with me?

I have seen from my time on the wards that students can be relied upon more than perhaps they should and I hope that if I am ever in a situation that I feel uncomfortable in, I will speak up as I would never want to sacrifice the quality of patient care I am delivering.

I remind myself of the reasons I want to be a nurse during any moments of doubt - my doubts are instantly extinguished and the floods of excitement return. Now I just need to go and purchase that new bag!