As corny as it may sound my studies and training to become a qualified nurse was a journey. With bumps and hurdles and highs and lows along the way. It felt like there were so many checkpoints and things to get signed off or get through that it was hard to focus on the here and now and enjoy the process, often the focus was the end of the journey and not the journey itself. This became clear to me at the beginning of my second year when amongst my cohort the talk of jobs started. I felt we had only just begun and yet the talk of the end was so loud and so prevalent that it became almost deafening and took over from what I was experiencing, leaving me feeling anxious and stressed about whether I would get a job and if I did would that job be the dream job?
The truth of the matter is we are in demand, there are so many opportunities for newly qualified nurses and nurses throughout their career. Nursing has so much to offer and so much variety that your career may take many twists and turns and changes of direction as these opportunities present themselves to you. What I learned was to focus on what I was experiencing, to look at each placement as an opportunity to learn, to develop and to give myself a chance to see the possibilities. Even now when many final year nurses are learning in a new way, in a pandemic, doing an ECPC we must remember we are still students; that this is about learning and demonstrating that you are a skilled and safe practitioner. That your focus is the holistic care of patients and that you understand the limits and the possibilities of your chosen profession.
Placement areas will want you, as the staffing crisis increases, more than ever. Areas you have been on placement will encourage you to apply and you may feel this is the right thing, that a first post where it is familiar is right for you. On the flip side you may want something new, to start your career as a qualified registered nurse with a new team. Neither is wrong and but it is your choice. Don’t feel pressured to take a job early on because you are worried you won’t get one. Don’t feel obligated to take a job because you did your ECPC, management placement, went to the Christmas party or have done bank shifts there. You have a choice, your only obligation is to be the best student you can be when you are there.
So when to apply and what to apply for? Well that is entirely up to you. My advice is don’t let applying for jobs take over from your training and getting all you can from it. Don’t underestimate needing a few weeks off at the end of your course to regroup and sleep.
And as for whether to follow your dream – my answer is –always, just remember that sometimes by living in the moment and concentrating on what you are doing your dreams shift.
By Clare Manley (Newly Qualified Nurse)