Written by Beth Cordon
BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing
Being a student nurse is one of the most rewarding degrees I could have imagined doing, not only am I constantly learning but I’m also getting to care for people. As a student nurse, my day-to-day life is quite different to that of other students, and here I’m hoping to give you an insight into it.
A day as a university student:
I spend half of my time at university in theory blocks. At each year, the theory blocks have been at different times. Now I’m in my third year, in an average week while at university I go in for lectures and seminars one or two days a week, usually full days 9-5 or 10-5. The rest of the week is dedicated to self-study, working on assignments and doing independent study to broaden my knowledge.
An average day at university starts at 9am, with a lecture for 1 or 2 hours. The rest of the day is then split into two seminars, where the content covered in the lecture is discussed and explored at a much deeper level, in smaller groups. Over the year adult nursing students cover six units, so the focus of the lecture and seminars, and the structure of the seminars depends on the topic being covered on that day. Some units involve a lot of independent study to be done at university, and fed back at the end of the day, some involve group work, and some involve discussion and note taking in the classroom.
An average day when I don’t have to go into university usually consists of independent study, whether it be essay writing or reading about conditions and management, during the week I have enough work to keep myself going and learning constantly!
A day on placement:
Most placements in the hospital are 12 and a half hour days, 3 or 4 days a week, whereas community placements tend to be 8 hour shifts, 5 days a week. On a 12-and-a-half-hour shift, I would start placement at 7am, and have handover with the nurses and healthcare assistants working the shift. Once handover is complete, I work alongside a registered nurse to give out the medication to patients in the bay that we are running for the day. The length of time this takes is determined by the number of patients, the type of ward, and the illnesses that the patients have that are controlled by medication. As a student nurse I am not allowed to administer medication independently, but a registered nurse works alongside me to make sure I am doing it properly.
Once medication has been completed, it is time to help patients have a wash, freshen up, brush their teeth and get dressed for the day ahead. Some patients are fully independent with getting themselves up and washed, some need a little assistance, and others require full assistance with all activities. We divide up the patients who need assistance from one nurse and those who need assistance from two and work together. By this time the patients have all already had their breakfast and are ready to get ready for doctor’s visits, family visiting and potentially going home!
Those patients who are being discharged on the day have their medications ordered from pharmacy and I help them make sure they have everything packed to go home. Once they have left the ward, I strip the bed, wash the area, and prepare it for the next patient!
At lunch time, while patients have their lunches, it’s time for another medication round. I help out along with the registered nurse to make sure the patients have all the medication they need. After this it’s likely any referrals that need completing for patients, whether they be within the hospital or in the community, are completed.
In between all of this, I help with any patients who want the toilet, or who want to mobilise, or who need to be turned if they are in bed, as well as trying to spend a bit of time with each patient to discuss how they are feeling and make sure they are comfortable. Also patient observations are often needed to be completed every 4-12 hours, to ensure they are not deteriorating, and other nursing assessments need to be completed.
There is another medication round to complete in the evening, which again will be done alongside a registered nurse, before the patient notes for the day have to be updated to write down how the patient has been, if there are any changes in their condition, and if any unplanned events happened. Then a full report of the patients and the events that have happened on that day have to be handed over to the staff starting their next shift!