The five things you must do before starting your nursing course

If you’re a student nurse about to start your course in January, there is a few things you’ll need to do over Christmas. There are simple things like investing in some comfortable and sturdy shoes, re-filling your pencil case and becoming more aware of current affairs that are in the news relating to the NHS. But there is also a fair amount of life-admin, pre-reading, saving and planning you should consider doing to give you a head start on the first day of term. 

We've teamed up with five universities to bring you some expert advice on what you should be doing between now and starting your course. 

1. Tick off the life-admin before you start

Karen Wild, Senior Lecturer, Adult Nursing at the University of Salford advises that all students should have a checklist for all their pre-course admin to make sure it's all completed.

  • Have you completed and sent off your bursary application - you can’t start without this!
  • Completed an occupational health check?
  • Have you been asked to attend the university for an online DBS screening or completed this separately?
  • Attended pre-induction session to be measured for uniform (dependent on university)?
  • Planned travel to and from university?
  • Drafted a budget for managing your finances day to day?

"Make sure that you also keep your eyes on e-mails from the university so that you can respond to any information requests that we may make within the deadline that is set" advises David Maher, Admissions Tutor for Adult Nursing at the University of Hertfordshire. "This will help the university to make sure that they have everything ready for your induction and enrollment, which will save you a lot of time and stress when you start" he added. 

2. Swot up on your anatomy and physiology……

"Read as much as you can about nursing generally, and anatomy and physiology and the biological sciences specifically" suggests Maher, University of Hertfordshire. "There is a lot of useful material on-line as well as in books and journals such as Nursing Times, or others that may be available in your local high street. You will have access to lots of specific materials when you start the course but it is a good idea to start early so that you have a good idea of what nursing involves". 

……And don’t forget about your maths skills

“Remember that you need to pass a drugs calculations test every year” says Jade Day, nursing student at Anglia Ruskin University. “Maths is so important especially when thinking about medication – if you get one calculation wrong you could kill a patient. Concentrate on your basic arithmetic, fractions, decimals, percentages, volume, time calculation and conversions.” 

3. Check out key nursing websites

Ann Owen, School of Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia encourages soon-to-be nursing students to start using key websites. "Familiarise yourself with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Royal College of Nursing and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as it is essential to have a professional awareness of organisations which influence nursing and decision making". 

4. If you haven’t already, start saving your pennies

"It’s useful to save some money prior to the start of the course as the NHS bursary usually doesn’t pay out until around 6 weeks into the course" explains Andrea Alker, Student Guidance Adviser Faculty of Health Sciences at Staffordshire University. "So you may need some contingency for the start of term. It’s also good to save some money for the beginning of placement so you have the initial money for transport as although you can claim it back, it can take up to 6 weeks to be reimbursed". 

5. Connect with other nurses using social media!

"Twitter is a great platform for student nurses and they all keep in contact, support each other, share blog posts, talk about important healthcare-based TV shows and news reports. It will really give you a flavour of what life is like as a student. It helps to show you that you’re not alone" says Day Anglia Ruskin University

You can also meet other applicants and student nurses in the nursing forum on TSR here »

But "most importantly, get excited!" encourages Day. "You are about the start the first day of the rest of your life. From this point onward you will be learning about your passion and how to make a difference to people’s lives in their most vulnerable times and this is a privilege, one you should never underestimate!" 

Good luck everyone  

Nursing and midwifery help on The Student Room: 
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