From Student Nurse to Registered Practitioner – A transition fuelled with Anxiety!

I am delighted to introduce another guest post on the Mental Health Nurse Lecturers Tea party. This comes from one of our soon to be qualified student nurses, Julie Bennett.

Julie describes her feelings on coming to the end of her time at BCU – she has promised to keep us updated about how she gets on after this.



So, Three years draw to a close and what a wonderful experience. A wealth of friends, university life, fun laughter, tears and tantrums but on we go, pulling each other through with hope and optimism from peers, mentors and tutors alike.


More incentive came from the NHS via the generous bursary and dependents allowance, which kept my four children clothed and fed, not to mention the 85% contribution towards the very expensive child care costs, (as much as my rent per month)! Ok, the children haven’t loved going to the child minders some days, but hey, needs must!


The practice placement managers and clinical practice allocations staff have been very supportive; my final placements have been in the community, which has meant family friendly hours and have enabled me to complete my training.


And no council tax! What a bonus….many positives to being a student nurse not to mention discounts in many stores and the cinema!


Would it be fair to say that the transition period is full of mixed emotions? Yes, I did it, I stuck it out, jumped through hoops and achieved my ambition, before long that photo of me in my cap and gown will be on my mantlepiece, I am so proud. (if I still have a mantlepiece)!


So now for the anxiety part of it all, explained wonderfully by two of my peers during a workshop at the recent Mental Health Conference…..The BIG DIVE! Where is the water? Oh dear, there is none…….


Armed with skills and knowledge of  theoretical frameworks, before long my registration number will be in the post and off I go……to the job centre! Via the housing department and the council tax office and the search for a child minder who starts at 6.30am and finishes at 9pm.


A community mental health job would be ideal! But band 5 newly qualified nurse in the community? Mmm A prayer or two maybe needed for that one!


So what is my predicament? Frustration at my own lack of faith, I am sure though that these concerns are shared by many soon to be qualified nurses. All that hard work for nothing but personal achievement?


Unable to find a job with hours to fit in with my children, chuck in the council tax bill child care costs (minus the 85% contribution) and I am actually worse off.  Not to mention the loss of opportunity to develop my skills in an area I am interested in (CAHMS). My final hope of getting some income to keep the roof over my head was working on the bank as a HCA but I am informed, as a newly qualified you cannot work the bank!!


Well, it was a good three years, I have met some wonderfully inspiring people and it has all been for a good cause – an experience I will never forget.


So, all you young free and single peeps out there, the world is your oyster! Travel the world, get that job and nurse those people who need you, treat students how you would have liked to be treated and reach for the stars! Be Leaders and research best practice all the way, I wish you well.


Despite the lack of jobs compared to the amount of graduates (baffles me why they train so many of us when there are no jobs), there is a job for everyone if you can be as flexible as possible, have a supportive family network to look after your kids and a decent car that will get your anywhere!


I will remember you all when I look at my graduation photo and never regret my uni days. Oh dear how bleak it all seems!! lol


Now…..if you think I am going to give up that easily, you are mistaken! Yes! These are my very real concerns and if I let negativity in it will beat me! My Guardian Angel did not get me this far to leave me stranded, I will continue to pursue my goals and work with service users and their families regardless of how dire the job market might appear, there is something out there for me but I have to get of my ass and find it! (even if it is counselling the  old dear in the post office queue whilst waiting to cash our meagre benefits! Lol)


Keep the faith Guys, this transition is make or break, time to “sort the men from the boys” and as my dad would say….”What’s for ya, won’t go by ya!!”


Good Luck all you final year Students



5 thoughts on “From Student Nurse to Registered Practitioner – A transition fuelled with Anxiety!

  1. Ah! I remember some of these concerns as well! What scared me the most was that regardless of your experience, patients and visitors wanted answers – and rightly so as I was now the proud owner of a ‘Staff Nurse’ badge and if I couldn’t handle the heat…

    Julie questions why so many students are trained if there are no jobs – the Uni does not decide how many students to recruit. It is the Strategic Health Authority (or similar) that tells the Uni how many to train. And there are jobs. The figure that the SHA tells us to recruit is not a figure for Birmingham – it is a figure to fit national targets. For example, there is no nurse training offered in the Shetland Isles (I believe) yet they still need nurses there so the nearest Uni would have this requirement built into their requirement. This means that ‘around’ any Uni, there maybe a surplus of nurses yet in other areas there is a deficit. And so I agree completely with Julie’s comment regarding traveling the world – you might not get the oppportunity again.

    It is scary when you qualify. Many newly qualified believe that they have not learnt much, that they do not have sufficient knowledge to be a nurse. But rest assured you have, you simply do not know you have! Education, I once read, is not about learning facts or figures. Rather, it is learning a new way of thinking, an attitude to approach situations with.

    And I wish all graduating students the best of times.

  2. If Julie is willing to travel, I know where there’s some Band 5 CAMHS jobs advertising soon.

    Julie, feel free to e-mail me at zarathustra at mentalnurse dot org dot uk

  3. Hi Julie, I too started my training with small child in tow, but had the support of my long suffering partner and parents who always helped out. It sounds as if you have faced adversity and overcome it during your training, don’t lose your resolve now! You are clearly a person with determination, so maybe consider the following points.

    CAMHS exist in the private sector in Birmingham, don’t restrict your career goals to the NHS. Could you perhaps join the nurse bank as a HCA initially? I know that you want to use your new shiny pin but this broadens your experience, you may make contacts and be able to find out where vacancies are coming up that may suit you and your circumstances. Have you done any placements that you have enjoyed and thought that they would fit with your needs – then tell them ! Maybe there are vacancies coming up or at least they will know you are interested if one arises and alert you in good time in order to apply.

    Also, don’t rule out positions in in-patient settings – there are flexible working arrangements in some workplaces. A note of caution though and maybe I am being a bit controversial but it may be perceived that us mothers (me included) knew the score before we commenced on our training, so think of your childcare situation not as a problem or potential employers may view them/you in this way too – think broadly – perhaps you could look for a position where you could do specific days and you will know where you are from week to week? Make suggestions and be proactive with the solutions.

    Good luck in your job hunting to Julie and all the other newly qualified.

  4. Hi Jules

    I know your education and training has been a great challenge at times and an adventure at other times. I can recall your anxieties when you first came into nurse education and since then you have become much more capable and confident in dealing with many challenges that have been brought your way. I know you will find what you are looking for or in the words of Jagger ‘Love the one you are with’.
    I think you should view this as your next adventure, moving toward something rather than away from something else.

    However, I do think this step, particularly in this climate does generate anxieties but that’s ok we are mental health nurses and know how to accept and manage anxieties, don’t we? I think one of the steps in this move is about adjusting one’s identity. You will no longer be a student nurse Jules but someone who will be mentoring student nurses and this is the big step to make and adjust to.

    So best of luck in this new adventure to you and other student nurses on the cusp of identity formation and change.

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