Well well well… long time no see hey blog! It’s been one heck of a ride since the last time I wrote a blog post, but as usual, quite a lot has changed. I wonder if I’ll ever write a blog post where I don’t say that…
So 10 days ago, I began a new career. I officially became a Student Nurse. And in three years time, fingers crossed I’ll be one of the few privileged people who get to help people, make a difference and have an impact on people’s lives in such a way that not many get to do. I’ve got a long way to go yet before that even happens; 3 years of theory and practical training, 3 years to learn the ropes, 3 years to experience as much as I possibly can, and 3 years of student life to get through. But I’ve taken that first step on the ladder, and the only way is up.
But since starting my course, I’ve come across a small* (*big) problem. “Being a student nurse in Wales is great”, they said… “You still get the student bursary in Wales!” they said… “At least you get paid to do your degree” they said…
Well you see, the problem is… I don’t. Arriving at university on my first day I found out that I was not going to be offered a student bursary. The rationale? I’ve not been financially independent from my parents for long enough. So despite being 25 years old, living in my house with my boyfriend and earning my own money for 2.5 years, apparently this doesn’t mean that I’m financially independent. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. I got pretty angry, and am convinced I almost turned the colour of my lovely new purple uniform. They also told me that my parents are supposed to support me through my degree. Now, my parents are two of the most supportive people going. However… they’ve put me through four years of university already. Asking for another three takes the piss a little bit. And with my brother at university at the moment and my sister hoping to start soon, I somehow don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to ask them to do.
It basically means that whilst doing a full time university course 50 miles away from my home (that’s quite a lot of travelling every day), I also have to work on pretty much every day off. That’s going to be virtually every weekend, any spare days that I have off from uni… bank holidays, Christmas, etc. just to make sure that I can pay my rent and feed myself for the month. See ya later social life!
It also means relying on poor old Moss to help me out A LOT. He’s told me he’s happy to do this, but I’m pretty sure when he agreed to be my boyfriend he didn’t sign up for that! It’s a lot to ask of someone to pay for me to live for the next three years (although I’m sure if I make him lots of pies, sausage rolls and cakes he’ll be happy enough).
Anyway, I’m not here for a pity party and I’m not here for sympathy (but you know, the odd chocolate bar through my letterbox might help me through this really tough time). I also know that I’m incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to learn and be part of such a rewarding career. And I know that there are a lot of people in a much worse situation than I’ve found myself in.
But what I am here for is to raise awareness of the issue. I know for a fact that I cannot be the only person who is having this kind of issue. Funding for nurses whilst doing our training is so low for everyone, with or without the bursary! I want to be someone that changes it, someone with a voice that gets heard. We’re giving 3 years of our lives, 50% of which is spent in clinical areas, working on the wards and in the communities. All of this being done without pay. I’ve worked in the Health Board for over a year now, and I can almost guarantee that for the next 10-20 years of my working life, I will probably be working in the same hospital in the same Health Board. I’m dedicated to making a difference, and yet am being tested and pushed almost over the edge because of the financial situation I’ve found myself in. I gave up a full time, pretty well paid job in order to do this course, and it’s quite a worry!
I know that the NHS is at crisis point. I also know that there is an incredible shortage of nurses. What I don’t know though, is how the (lack of) student bursary is discouraging me to the point where I start to think, is it really worth it? Is this what other people think? Is this why there is such a shortage of nurses? Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to get myself through these 3 years and I’m going to learn SO MUCH! And I can’t wait for it. I’m going to prove that I can do it and that I WILL do it. But at times, I have to question the rationale behind the whole thing. In 3 years time, I’ll be in charge of looking after people when they’re at their most vulnerable. Throughout the next 3 years I’ll be helping clinical staff to do this, and learning more and more every day about how to be the best nurse I can be. Is that not worth something?
To any fellow student nurses who are in the same boat as me, kudos to you. Hang in there, we’ll all get there together 🙂
Sorry for moaning, I’ll try and be more positive next time! 😉
A very frustrated Student Nurse