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Today marks the final time I will write for the Nursing Times as a student editor. What a year it has been. Reflecting on the year, it is hard to believe how far I have come and the opportunities I have gained as a result.
At the beginning of my degree I could not have anticipated the opportunities that have become available to me as a result of gaining the editor position.
It was the support of my personal academic tutor which encouraged me to write a blog about my personal journey and what had led me to pursue a career in nursing. From this, my confidence to apply for this position developed, though I never expected to receive a call offering me the role.
To say this academic year has been personally demanding would be an understatement. I have risen to the challenge during both a personally and academically difficult year, needing to take time out from studying for an operation, but catching up to ensure I completed the year.
I have been determined not to fall behind as a result, and while further personal circumstances could have detrimentally affected me, I have pushed through maintaining my grades and developing both personally and professionally.
As a result of my time with Nursing Times, I have been lucky enough to create and deliver a presentation on emotional resilience to nursing associate students working collaboratively with another student. Throughout all of this, my role within the university has broadened developing further skills, which will support me next year during my final undergraduate year. This included being asked to support the university in planning a student conference, which sadly was postponed due to Covid-19 and I have been invited to participate in other initiatives which promote student development for future cohorts.
“There are opportunities to put yourself out there, both within the university and further afield”
Before beginning my degree, my assumptions about the role of a student were very different to now. I presumed a student attended lectures and seminars and completed placements, combining self-directed study with taught content to produce assessments.
While this is certainly true to an extent, for those wishing to enhance their student experience, there are opportunities to put yourself out there, both within the university and further afield.
Personally, I have found these extra opportunities have kept me focused during the difficult times I have faced this year, and cemented the drive and determination I have to succeed.
I often see posts on social media from prospective students worried about how they will manage due to both finances and childcare.
Myself and my husband do not have the advantage of parents to support with childcare, nor do we qualify for childcare support from student finance. My student loan has to pay for childcare and I still have to work to qualify for 30 hours funding, but somehow, we make it work and still manage to spend some quality time together as a family.
Nursing degrees are hard work. However, I want to offer reassurance to those who are in a quandary, doubting whether it is possible. My year with personal challenges and Covid-19 has been difficult.
Studying at home with three children and my husband working from home has not been easy. I had to find alternative ways to find the quiet time needed to focus on academic work, and I know many other students have faced similar challenges, regardless of whether they have children or not.
However, if nursing has gripped your heart you will find a way that works for you. My mum used to tell me that if you want something badly enough you will do it, and she was right. Never underestimate your strength and ability to make things happen, and the resilience you develop throughout the programme.
Studying nursing becomes a family affair, and I feel it is important to acknowledge the role family has for all students; supportive and offering a shoulder to cry on after a challenging day while in practice.
Acknowledging stress and times when emotional support is required and is essential to prevent potential burnout.
As I write this, I have just experienced the loss of a much-loved family member following illness. The impact on the final months of the academic year while supporting my nan and facing challenges associated with a pandemic has been incredibly difficult.
In closing, I would like to say an overwhelming thank you to those whose have supported me throughout this incredibly difficult time; it is truly appreciated.