Taking a break

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On January 3rd 2020, I had a meeting with my university and decided to take a 6 month break from my course. I had 8 weeks of management placement left to complete and would have been qualified by now. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and some people may question why I decided to take a break then instead of pushing through the 8 weeks and qualifying.

I wouldn’t have made it through the 8 weeks without snapping.

My mental health had been getting worse since experiencing ‘second year blues‘ which never really went away and I reached the stage where I couldn’t cope with daily life again. I had missed some placement time, spent days in bed without talking to anyone and ignoring all responsibilities. I’d put my fake face on and drag myself to work because I knew that I would lose my home if I didn’t force myself to do that. But 40 hour weeks on placement and 20-30 hours paid work were really starting to take their toll, for nearly three years I had been burning the candle at both ends and I was rapidly running out of wax. There were things going on in my personal life as well which only added to the stress I was feeling at the time.

University were really supportive of me taking a break and I had a plan in place for my return that afternoon. So I now had 6 months to get myself back in the right frame of mind to give my management placement my all and qualify as an adult nurse. As soon as I walked out of the meeting I felt lighter, lighter than I had for months. I knew instantly I’d made the right decision.

The hardest part about taking a break? Watching the rest of my cohort being signed off. Completing their management placements. Receiving their degree classifications. I am ridiculously proud of them all for finishing those three years and they will all make fantastic nurses. But knowing that that should have been me had I been stronger, more determined and without mental health issues really knocked me for six for a couple of weeks. I hadn’t really anticipated how hard those few weeks would be for me and how much of a failure I would feel for not being able to just stick it out for 8 weeks. Some people reached out and I am really grateful to them….some people didn’t reach out at all and I was surprised but I guess that’s life. Maybe they thought it would be easier for me if they didn’t mention it.

If you feel like you need to take a break, talk to someone and please take one if needed. I know now I should have taken one sooner but I was stubborn and did not want to admit that I really wasn’t enjoying myself at all. It’s easy to put on a fake persona and turn up to uni/placement with your ‘game face’ on…but when you’re crying yourself to sleep most nights wondering how you will manage to fight through the next few months it’s really time to start thinking about yourself and not what other people will think of you for having to take a break.

You are not a failure for needing to take time for you. It is a brave decision to make and if you know it’s the right decision for you, you are the only person who matters.

Love,

T x

A year to go until you’re a staff nurse!

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Here are my tips for third year!

  1. If you have a dissertation/literature review to complete, try to choose a topic early on and find your papers. It gives you a head start and enables you to be organised with your work.
  2. Be aware that this year will fly! If you think your course has flown by up to now, third year really does zoom by.
  3. Start looking for jobs but don’t worry about having to gain one immediately. You have plenty of time to apply throughout the year and your university may provide you with practice interviews to gain experience.
  4. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. You do know what you need to know and anything else will be learnt in the specific area you go into. They say nursing begins once you qualify as that is when you learn the most of your knowledge.
  5. Start saving a little every month. When you finish your third year, you will have your first years NMC fee to pay – which is currently £120. Add this to the cost of graduation and any graduation ball that your cohort may have and it can be a costly few months before you start earning a full wage.
  6. Keep your portfolio up to date throughout the year. Potential employers may wish to see this and keeping it organised minimises the stress of having to finish it all before the end of third year.
  7. When on placement, take first and second years ‘under your wing’ if you can. This provides a support network for you all and gives you experience of being a mentor to a student ready for when you qualify. It also helps the first and second years to know they have someone who has been in their position to turn to for advice and support.
  8. If you have any worries or concerns, speak to your lecturers. They have seen plenty of students in your position and have even been there themselves so they know exactly how you’re feeling coming up to qualifying.
  9. Think about keepsakes from your course. There are companies who can turn one of your student uniforms into a teddy or a cushion. Frame your student nurse badge once you have completed the course as a reminder of your journey.
  10. Plan a holiday or social event with your friends to celebrate qualifying, this gives you something to look forward to and focus on throughout the year.
  11. Know what needs signing/completing in your OARs and when it needs completing by. If you can go into your placements with this information ready for your mentor, it takes away a little bit of worry.
  12. Do your research before starting each placement. Know a little bit about the speciality of your placement and the common medications used there.
  13. Reach out if you begin to feel overwhelmed at any point.

Let me know if you have any other good tips for third year!

Love,

T x