Debs CooperDebs Cooper, Nursing student

I started my life as a student nurse at Birmingham City University in September 2013. After the excitement of moving to a new city, getting settled into my new accommodation and having had enjoyed my induction week, I was soon itching to get started on the real meat of my nursing course.

I knew from the course plan that I would have 2 modules in my first term and, once I had access to the university computer systems I was able to see what my timetable looked like, the different names of the sessions got me even more excited. Each module was introduced and then we were pulled straight in to the world of 21st century nursing. It was explained that the modules in the first term would prepare us for the first placement after the Christmas holidays, giving us an introduction to nursing as a profession and the practical skills we would need to survive on the wards such as basic life support, moving and handling and vital signs monitoring.

The modules were distinct and my timetabling helped enormously by only having one module each week. This was great for me and meant I had lots of opportunities to find myself in the library looking for the documents talked about in the lectures and researching the concepts introduced to us. Although we were only timetabled for 2 or 3 days a week we were all encouraged to spend time during the rest of the week for personal study and reading around the subject. I decided I was going to make the most of these opportunities!

A fascinating lecture we had for one module in the initial weeks was regarding the history of nursing. This raised questions about whether nursing is considered a vocation or a profession, explained the history of some famous and important historic nurses and gave insight into not only where modern nursing have come from but also asked about what the future might hold? We were also introduced to ideas of nursing with regard to the law, ethics, equality and diversity and the big 6 Cs (Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment).

The second module that I was enjoying during my first term at university was concerned more with the practical skills needed by a nurse in today’s hospitals and also the physiology and pharmacology that backed up those skills. As part of learning the practical skills needed for nursing we were introduced to the skills suite at the university. The university had obviously spent a lot of time and money trying to make the skills suite the best possible environment for learning in, I have to say I was impressed from the start.

For the skills session we broke down into groups of around 20, as opposed to approximately 120 students in the big lecture groups, and this smaller group soon proved to be a great ‘team’ of students to learn with. We practiced basic and yet essential skills such as washing a patient, brushing someone’s teeth and making beds. Other skills sessions later on in the module focused on monitoring vital signs and injection technique (a VERY fun lesson involving injecting a poor unsuspecting orange).

The other great thing about the small group work was that it meant important discussions were done in more intimate groups so it was easier to open up about important topics. One such session was about how we perceive death and dying. This was interesting because we started to explore the differences between personal grief and how you grieve as a professional. This to me was not a new topic having worked in care for the last few years before coming to university… but it was very interesting to be able to talk to people who had different experience and different opinions to me. The work done in the small groups gave me hope that the level of discussion and sharing we would achieve would be helpful in cultivating an atmosphere that encouraged learning and, more importantly, shared learning.

Another fantastic plus point about the course in that first term was the high level of support we received as a cohort of students from every member of staff we came across (and this has continued in my second pair of modules too!). All the lecturers were so approachable and were eager to answer all the questions that were asked of them. I found it very reassuring that they were willing to make that investment of time in us as students! Whether it was face to face conversations, emailed questions or group forum posts on the module Moodle sites the academic staff were always trying to keep us students in the loop!

By the time my Christmas holidays swung round I was tired out from an engaging and enjoyable term’s worth of lectures and I was looking forward to my first placement feeling that I was ready to step out onto the ward as a student nurse!

Learn more about Debs Cooper’s first student placement

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