Studying Adult Nursing: expectations vs reality


Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing
Course: BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

19 March 2021

Adult Nursing student Tiffany shares her expectations of the course, and discusses how these compare to the reality.

I was very excited about starting my degree because becoming a nurse has always felt like something I was destined to do. With it being such a huge part of my dream, it’s probably fair to say I had a bit of a 'fairy tale' vision for it. How has that matched up to reality?

The view from the outside

I never thought that studying nursing would be easy for one second – I should stress that.

In the lead-up to actually applying for my degree at ARU, I had spent years watching videos and reading blogs about student nurses. I thought I already had a pretty strong picture of what to expect before starting my degree, but to be honest, nothing can quite prepare you for actually studying nursing.

I’m glad I did all that research, I don’t doubt that it helped me and even just dedicating myself to all the extra reading was building a more resilient and reflective person – which is always helpful when it comes to nursing.

What you don't see

However, the reality is, once you start working on the wards and living your day-to-day in the environment, you realise how much there is to learn.

For me, there is nothing more exciting that learning new things that you know only student nurses and nurses will ever get to learn. To then actually put it into practice – it feels so surreal. It’s a dream come true.

There’s another side to it though: the emotions, the tiredness, the anxiety, the tears. You have to learn to be strong in ways you didn’t anticipate and that can only come with practice – so remember to be kind to yourself when you’re learning.

There are also some surprises along the way that you don’t expect, like the feeling when a patient says ‘thank you’ and you can tell how much they really mean it. Or when some family members leave you a card.

Sometimes you even realise a patient has told you something they haven’t told anyone else, or perhaps they’re finding comfort in your care when they’ve been cheekily misbehaving for everyone else.

It’s a non-stop rollercoaster being a student nurse, but every up and down is so worth it. What I expected and the realities of this course are pretty different, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am definitely living my fairy tale and that rewarding feeling at the end of the day, that’s what keeps me going and it will keep you going too.

Tiffany studies BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing at ARU in Peterborough. We also train nurses in Cambridge and Chelmsford. Find out more about nursing, and other degree courses, at one of our Open Days.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.