22 things I would tell my 1st year nursing student self…


  1. Be more curious about everything, you will learn more that way.
  2. Being kind will get you everywhere you need to go.
  3. Not everyone will agree with you – that is fine! Don’t take critique to personally – but use it to make you more capable, resilient and strong.
  4. Follow your instinct with people – the right thing to do is probably the right thing to do. Trust your gut feeling.
  5. Read everything you can about nursing topics. Read every new journal issue you can! That way your gut feeling will be steeped in evidence!
  6. Learn to write as soon as you can… academic writing seemed pointless in first year… but good communication skills get you everywhere in life – and life is easier if you can write (and reference)! It does matter after all…
  7. There are a lot of good people out there; and there are a lot of not so nice people too. But, be nice to everyone – sometimes the background story for the not-so-nice people explains why they are not-so-nice.
  8. Listen more
  9. Be with people more… It is risky – but I mean really be with them… emotionally, helpfully, and compassionately. Be prepared to really care.
  10. Remember – every time you see a naked or semi-naked person – it is an opportunity to practice your assessment skills! Don’t ever be ‘too posh to wash’.
  11. People are never called ‘the shower’ or ‘toileting’, ‘a turn’ or a ‘room number’. Rather, think of it as a privilege to help someone who can’t do stuff for themselves they would rather do for themselves and in private.
  12. You will get hurt emotionally; there will be pain. Use your vulnerability and turn it into your strength. Talk to senior colleagues about reflecting on your practice and developing your resilience early on.
  13. Love what you do… not everyone around you will share that joy – but it is OK to love nursing! Jump in boots and all – don’t hold back. Some of the people you care for from day one prac onwards will stay in your memory for life.
  14. You were right… the computer unit (where you learnt to write a program to produce an image of your initials), and the music unit (where you had to perform a solo song) did not add a great deal to your nursing skills… but you got HD’s in those units, so something good came of something you didn’t want to do! Be prepared to do some stuff you don’t want to do… and try not to grizzle too much about it.
  15. Stay curious, and be prepared to learn new things, whether you think they are useful right now, or not. You will be amazed at how knowledge weaves and scaffolds your nursing thinking from many different directions and disciples. Turns out E Health is big these days – something I couldn’t foresee in first year. Things change – stay nimble and ready to change and adapt!
  16. Remember to keep some chewing gum handy for those smelly jobs you will have to do. Don’t moan about it in the pan room either.
  17. Remember to keep some tissues handy for the sad jobs you will have to do.
  18. It is cool to wash your handsall the time, before and after everything. Don’t wait to be asked… just do it!
  19. Black tea with sugar is great for recovering after you faint during a nursing procedure! (You did/will a couple of times…)
  20. Buy your own stethoscope…no body likes to share earpieces or wax!
  21. If the person/patient says they have pain – they do… believe them.
  22. Stay curious and read more.

One comment

  1. Pingback: 22 things I would tell my 1st year nursing student self… | Associate Professor Rhonda Wilson PhD RN

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