Benefits and Challenges to Studying Nursing.

Hello folks!

The news reported yesterday that there has been a reduction in the number of applications made for nursing courses across Scottish Universities this year-700 according to First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Eileen McKenna: Associate Director RCN Scotland explained on STV news that the RCN have lobbied for a number of years to get the student nurse intake increased to address the shortfall in the nursing workforce and so these numbers are concerning.

There are many of reasons why people may not have opted to study nursing, but equally there are loads of reasons why student nurses should choose to study nursing!

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to STV news reporter Haley Bouma yesterday about this.

Challenges

The reasons behind these statistics are undoubtedly very complex cycle but here are a few points I have reflected upon which might suggest why fewer people have opted to study nursing.

It has been reported via the media that there have been challenges for student nurses during the Covid pandemic, and universities have had to redesign their course to an online platform, and some students found this challenging. There have also been challenges within practice, particularly due to the capacity of the NHS. Universities and NHS have done their level best to provide the best student experience despite the challenges of COVID, it is not clear if these challenges have resulted in nursing becoming less attractive but potentially people have weighed this challenge up. There did appear to be an influx of student applications during the covid pandemic and I have to say I was one of these which I will share more about later.

As I mentioned on the STV news clip; although it is appreciated that the Scottish Government support student nurses with a 10k bursary, in normal times where there is no cost of living crisis it can be a struggle, however, student nurses are also experiencing the cost of living crisis, so there is real concern about whether the bursary will meet the demands of student nurses during this crisis. This may be one reason why fewer people have not opted to study nursing, but instead chosen to take a paid job.

Due to short staffing there is a degree of pressure on students to support ward and placement areas which can have an impact on protected teaching time which we know as supernumerary status, however organisations such as the RCN are actively working to support and protect this status for student nurses.

Many student nurses need to work part time on the side of their course in order to stay afloat- in fact some qualified nurses need to hold a second job in order to stay afloat! The demands of daily living, full time placement, university course work and a working another job is a massive uptake for one person and this obviously can have an impact to ones mental wellbeing.

For many years we have heard ongoing coverage in the media about staff nurses feeling under-valued which has had a profound contribution to mental wellbeing. As we know from these historic reports many feel this as a result of being overstretched due to the chronic staffing crisis and retention issue within nursing. We also know from reports that a shortfall in Nurses can have an impact on the quality of care delivered which can take a toll on job satisfaction and again mental wellbeing.

Historic reports also suggest that nurses feel undervalued due to being underpaid and I can absolutely understand this because at the end of the day student nurses work exceptionally hard in their training and invest time and resources for up to 3 -4 years of their life, and maybe longer depending on their chosen career path within the profession; therefore they want to feel appreciated and a sense of gratification at the end of there course and be able to provide a living for themselves and their family without feeling like they are on the breadline. The RCN are actively campaigning for better pay and safer staffing and people should definitely get behind this campaign by firstly making sure their details are up to-date on their ‘My RCN page‘ so a postal vote can be sent out to the correct address. This is work will directly support current and future nursing staff!

So you can see here how the media coverage has made the profession appear unappealing to prospectus students, but in fact there are so many reasons to choose nursing as a career path! We need to start honing in on all the positives!

Benefits

Why I chose to come into nursing: Nursing was always in my minds eye as a child, I grew up in a family of nurses and so I was inspired from a very young age, however I didn’t feel ready to undertake nursing when I first left school and so I undertook further study in higher education before going into nursing. I decided to go into nursing during the covid pandemic so I acquired a clearing space at my university.

I feel it is important to note here that there are many transferable skills that people can bring into nursing from previous training and careers, and so we should be encouraging people who have trained in other fields who are looking to have a career change into nursing, to apply for nursing courses! You are never too old to think about a career in nursing! As long as you are caring compassionate and can be an authentic advocate for people it is a great option.

Nursing is a really honourable profession, being a student nurse is an opportunity to learn from the amazing nurses within education and practice settings. They prepare us to deliver person and family-centred care across the life span, and this gives student nurses personal satisfaction that we can support people in need of care.

So my motive for applying for nursing is like many student nurses: it is about having the opportunity to make a difference to people– and this is my ethos in life. I love being able to put a smile on someones face. 🙂

Nursing is a global family, so the profession while challenging provides a sustainable career option and there is also so many areas you can choose to practice in which keeps the profession interesting.

Depending on the route you choose nursing can be a very flexible career option!

Research is ever changing and so there is always new learning opportunities for student and qualified nurses. You can literally learn something new every single day in nursing!

Nursing offers leadership opportunity at all levels.

“It is hard work and yes there are challenges but the rewards are absolutely worth it!

I am very honoured and proud to be a student nurse and would recommend anyone considering nursing as a career option to absolutely apply!

You can learn about various nursing professionals/specialists journeys via my podcast:

Click image to listen

It would be great to see the Scottish Government put further measures in place to ensure nursing is seen as an attractive and rewarding career because it absolutely is!

I am happy to answer any questions about my lived experience as a student nurse to any prospectus student: chloe.jackson@reps.rcn.org.uk

https://www.rcn.org.uk/Professional-Development/become-a-nurse#becomeanurse

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