For me studying is like giving birth. And on more than one occasion. The first time is excited, slightly naive about what is going to happen. And then it starts and the reality kicks in.
It starts to smart a bit, and then slightly more, and then a bit more until you’re mooing like a cow and panting like a dog even though you vowed not to when watching One Born Every Minute.
Once that precious baby has been born, all the pain and suffering is instantly worth it. As time passes, the memories of the birth fade and you find yourself thinking, “I’m ready to have another baby”.
But when you get to the birth and the contractions kick in, the reality comes flooding back that it actually does hurt so you have to grit your teeth and carry on.
I actually remember saying to my husband and my mum, “I am never doing this again” when I was in labour with my second child. Never – but I did once more for luck.
So now here I am doing a master’s degree in clinical research, four years after completing my BSc Hons, when I was telling everyone that would listen that is it. I said I’ve got to where I want to be. I am never doing a master’s degree because I can’t. I have no time. I am not clever enough and so on.
But even though I found the BSc Hons challenging, I am still going to do a further qualification and the reason is; the feeling of achieving something I never really thought possible is immense. Having the chance to learn as an adult is brilliant, taking up the challenge to improve our knowledge and skills which will then benefit our patients, colleagues and employers.
“It is vital to keep learning and sharing what you’ve learned”
I know it is not an easy thing to take on with busy lives. There are not enough hours in the day to do all the things you have to do, let alone find time to study, but it is important. It is important as healthcare is constantly changing and improving. Nursing has to be a continuous learning process as the more we know, the more we can support the people we work with, shape the workforce of the future and improve services for patients.
I also know through experience that people want to help you. They don’t want you to fail, so accepting help from your university lecturer or the research team at the trust doesn’t mean you are not doing it well enough. They are just guiding you so you can reach your full potential.
It is vital to keep learning and sharing what you’ve learned, attend study days, do a university module, be confident and enjoy the feeling of achievement.
Like giving birth or renovating your house for that matter, once you have completed studying, you forget the blood, sweat and tears you put in and enjoy the immense achievement.
You can do it and let’s hope I can.
Sian Rodger is patient education and health coaching lead, London Spinal Cord Injury Centre