Common myths you may hear as a student nurse

1. It doesn’t matter what degree classification you get. 

In the grand scheme of things, it’s true it doesn’t matter what classification you get. As long as you pass and are signed off as competent, you will qualify and receive a pin. BUT if you want to go on and do further study like a masters, the chances are you will need a 2:1 at least. This is where degree classification does matter. There is no shame in aiming high and wanting to achieve something which you know you are capable of.

2. Every day will be amazing and you will love every minute.

This might happen. But there’s also the chance that you will have ‘off’ days or a negative experience which will make you doubt/question everything. I know, I’ve been there. I didn’t talk about it and it made me doubt my decision for a long time. I felt useless because I was struggling and everyone around me seemed to be loving every minute. If you feel this way, talk about it. Others will feel the same you just don’t realise it.

3. You must work on a general ward for at least a year before specialising.

NO.

Want to work in the community? Go for it. Critical care? You can. A&E? DO IT! If you know you want to work in an area that isn’t a general ward and they accept NQN (which more and more areas do now) then go where you know your heart lies. Why ‘settle’ for a job you know isn’t your first choice when your dream job is waiting for you to grab with both hands?! Yes you will learn transferable skills on a general ward, but the skills learnt in other areas are usually very different to the skills learnt on general wards. Each area has its own strengths and skills to be learnt, all of which can be transferred to other areas if you decide to change direction later in your career.

4. You can’t work around your degree.

You can, I do. I HAVE TO. Always put uni/placement/deadlines above picking up a shift. And always be careful of doing too much and ‘burning out’. Your uni may have rules about how many hours you can do a week, so if you have a 30 hour uni week you may only be able to work 18 hours around that. You don’t need to work in healthcare, it’s beneficial to keep care skills up to date but you spend enough time on placement that this shouldn’t be an issue. You can have any part-time job as long as it’s flexible enough to fit around uni/placement.

5. You can’t be yourself on social media.

You can. Be mindful of abiding by the code and maintaining professionalism/confidentiality, but if you want to tweet about your favourite tv show or sport then go for it! It’s great to get to know the personalities behind the student nurse ‘tag’ and you can make some wonderful friends through social media and shared interests.

6. You must spend every waking moment reading, researching, working etc.

Yes it’s important to read around assignments and research up coming placements. But you need to remember to take time for yourself as well. See your friends, go to the cinema, go for a run. Something completely unrelated to nursing, give yourself a break regularly. Take care of yourself.

7. Male nurses are gay.

This is one I hear time and time again and it’s simply not true. Yes some male students/nurses will be gay, just like some female students/nurses will be. But there are also many who are not. Don’t assume someones sexuality based on the job they do, its outdated and stereotypical. Plus, someones sexuality is nobody’s business unless they choose to share it with you, assumptions can be damaging and hurtful.

8. Nurses are only nurses because they are not clever enough to be a doctor. 

If I wanted to be a doctor, I would have been a doctor. Many of us are clever enough to be doctors but didn’t want to be. Yes they are both careers within healthcare, but the roles are very different. Gone are the days where nurses are just there to help the doctors, they are recognised in their own right now. The care that nurses provide is just as vital to a patient. It’s insulting to hear someone say you chose your career path because you’re not intelligent enough for another one.

9. Your cohort will be amazing and you will all be friends for life.

Your cohort will be full of people just like you, student nurses trying their hardest to succeed. You will make friends and those friendships may continue after uni. But you will not like everyone. This is the same in any situation in life, yes you will be friendly towards people but you don’t have to become best friends with every person you meet just because they are a student nurse too.

10. You will always be supernumerary.

Now this may not 100% be a myth and in a majority of placement areas you will be supernumerary. Just be aware that if you feel your supernumerary status is not being implemented then you should speak to someone about it. There is a difference between helping HCAs and assisting with the ward routine, and constantly being used as a HCA/extra pair of hands with no learning opportunities or mentor guided time.

11. You cannot be good academically and on placement, it’s one or the other.

I’ve heard this on many occasions and even had it directed towards me more than once. There is no reason you cannot excel in both areas, many people do. It’s another outdated view that you can only be good academically or in practical situations, not both.

Let me know if there are any other myths you have heard!

Love,

T x

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