Emotional Intellegence · Guest blogs

Stuck in the Middle as a Second Year Student Nurse

My second year of training has been tough, tougher than first year by a long shot. It’s hard to explain why it’s been so hard but I guess the main reason is that you’re very much stuck in the middle. No longer the first year who’s new to everything, the responsibility has become apparent and you’re not quite sure that you’re ready for your mentors to loosen the reigns but you also know it’s only a matter of time before the stabilisers come off altogether.

The best approach for me has been to push myself beyond my comfort zone whilst having the security of mentors, accepting challenges willingly and in a nutshell simply getting things done.

I went through a period this year where I lacked motivation and had to give myself a talking to, I had to push beyond the lack of motivation and remind myself that nursing has made me feel as though I’m doing something worthwhile, even on my bad days I got up, showed up and never missed a day despite the fact that the easy option of calling in lurked in the background.

I didn’t make excuses and I reminded myself that people don’t get the chance to choose when they’re going to be ill, whereas I have the chance and the opportunity to make a difference to someone who through no fault of their own, finds themselves in need of being looked after. Nine times out of ten by pushing through and finding determination to get things done, I’d be rewarded for my efforts.

I struggled at the beginning because I wasn’t a very open person, I held onto my feelings very tightly and I quickly realised that I couldn’t continue to do that, I couldn’t take on others pain as my own because it would eat me up. I had to be honest and admit when I was struggling, I had to learn to let go of things that upset me and start to talk about my feelings.

My training has forced me to change, to become more open and more importantly has taught me that it’s ok to be affected by things that happen in practice, it’s ok to be upset and it’s ok to ask for help when things get hard.

For a long time fear held me back, I put off my training for years because I was afraid to confront how I coped with my own feelings, knowing in advance that I would absorb negative situations and store them up inside.

With help though it’s been possible for me to change and I’m much happier overall, do I still sometimes get upset? Of course I do but now I handle it better, I’ll talk to someone rather than having a scenario whirring round my head for days and that’s been so liberating.

Everything I’ve wanted has always been on the other side of fear, in the beginning I genuinely was afraid, afraid of not being good enough, afraid that I’d mess things up and all kinds of disastrous things would happen, but in reality none of these catastrophic thoughts have come true and during this awkward second year I’ve finally acknowledged that I am good enough for this and that by taking some very uncomfortable steps I’ve actually managed to open a lot of doors for myself, I’ll no longer be stuck as the ‘wasted’ healthcare assistant that ‘really should do their training’ because I’ve finally managed to kick the self doubt into touch and that’s been the hardest and kindest thing I could do for myself this year.

Jessica Smith (@Jess_UoB) – University of Bradford

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