undergraduate

Some tips before you embark on your degree

So you’ve put in all the hard work and now you’re finally here at King’s College London! I have just finished my degree and it has been an amazing and enriching three years from the start to the finish. I can understand that it can be both an exciting and daunting experience waiting to start university. It’s a big place and sometimes you can feel like a little person lost and overwhelmed by it all. Here are some tips to help you get started and, I hope, ease your nerves.

Moving in to halls…
Moving in day was an anxious one for me and I remember having butterflies in my stomach. This is a big step for everyone and you are not alone in feeling nervous. Use moving in day as an opportunity to get to know the people you will be living with as these will be the people you will spend most of your time with during welcome week.

Healthcare students are often placed in the same accommodation as each other. Trust me – this helps as your flatmates will understand your crazy schedule and will keep the noise down after you’ve worked a night shift.

Tips: When unpacking, leave your door open with a doorstop. This will show that you are open to conversations and will make you more approachable to your new flatmates. Go to your accommodation’s events during welcome week and find out about the different people in your building. You may even find people on the same course as you. For me, this event is where I met my friends for life.

Commuting from home…
Many of my friends lived at home or in private accommodation during their time at university, but mentioned to me they felt worried about making friends and fitting in. Three years on this clearly wasn’t an issue, and they told me their top tips…

Tips: Join as many societies as your studies (and commute) can handle. This will be a great tool to meet people both on and off your course. It can also help you discover interests you didn’t know about.

First week of university…
Firstly, ensure you are properly enrolled and you have collected your uniform for when you’re on shift. This is your last chance to ensure your DBS, compliance documents and vaccinations are up-to-date too. It really helps if you go to all your inductions so you find out how best to use the IT facilities, the library and the student support services you might not yet know about.

Be sure to get involved in as many freshers’ week activities as possible. Take the opportunity to see the KCLSU and find out with societies or events you may like. This is the easiest way to find people you can related to – something that can be difficult to do when there are so many people around so really take advantage of this.

Tips: Enjoy being a fresher and making memories that will last a lifetime. Step outside of your comfort zone and try the things you wouldn’t normally do – you never know who you’ll meet or what fun things you learn about yourself.

I wish you the best of luck!

Deborah recently graduated with a BSc in Mental Health Nursing

For more information on Mental Health Nursing, click here.

Financial support enabled me to continue my voluntary work

Hi, I’m Marija. I’m a first year BSc Adult Nursing student at King’s College London, and I’m a Perseverance Trust Scholarship holder.

The immense honour and privilege I feel to have been chosen as a recipient of the scholarship is only paralleled by the pride I have to be studying within the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery. This is due to the incredibly large range of academic opportunities and extracurricular activities on offer to students who study here, and you can’t ignore the fact that we’re ranked as the top Nursing School in the UK and third in the world!

I discovered the Perseverance Trust Scholarship through independent research for financial support opportunities prior to the start of my course. As I was eligible, I knew I would be applying for the scholarship once I received my offer to study at King’s. So, as you can imagine, I was overcome with joy when I was awarded the scholarship as I knew how much of a financial burden would be taken off my shoulders. My joy largely stemmed from the knowledge that the additional financial support would enable me to continue my voluntary work in palliative care, which is the area that I plan to specialise in once I am qualified. Without that additional funding I might not have been able to afford to volunteer my time and I feel I would have missed out on this really rewarding and beneficial opportunity.

Having increased financial stability has allowed me to focus on continuing to achieve to a high academic standard and to concentrate on providing a personal patient-centred approach while I’m on placement. Additionally, it has allowed me to take part in various other experiences offered by King’s to its students, such as the long list of societies and activities run by the student union.

I would encourage anyone starting their journey at King’s to apply for the scholarship. The process is quick and easy, and there’s always a member of the Faculty available to you to answer any questions regarding the application process. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Good luck!

Juggling your placement with everything else in your life

So I’ve been asked to write about juggling, university life with placement and socialising and everything in between. I thought I would start by laying down a few facts about placements which may help you understand my later explanation…

Our placement allocations for the BSc & PGDip Pre-Registration courses (courses to learn to be a nurse) are based on your term-time postcode in year 1 of the programme. The rule KCL operates is that you shall never have to travel more than 1hr 15mins to get to your placement from your home. If for example you live in Bedford or Hastings and commute into London, the 1 hour and 15 minutes commences from when you reach your major mainland rail station eg. Blackfriars, Paddington, King’s Cross etc. not when you leave your house, this is important to bear in mind.

When this has been calculated, you will be allocated a ‘host trust’ an NHS trust (which may be made up of more than one hospital) which you will have all your placements at. Examples include: Guy’s & St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital(s) & Imperial Healthcare Trust. It is not possible to choose your trust, unless you have been seconded from them in which case you will be allocated to them.

Some people are disappointed with their allocation, but remember there is no such thing as a ‘perfect trust/placement’. Each hospital(s) will offer different and varying opportunities, but KCL has appraised them all as sufficiently good to send their high-calibre students to.

Remember you also have an elective placement (which you can pick anywhere OUTSIDE KCL’s host trusts in the UK or abroad) to travel to. So if you want to undertake an experience in a particular speciality or field of healthcare you can, using this placement. It’s also a good opportunity for you to go to a hospital you may wish to work at, if it’s not one of our host trusts, to make a name for yourself and get your foot in the door!

Something people ask a lot about is how you cope with university work and placement? Well personally (and I am quite academic) my university work took top priority all the time, apart from when I was attending placement when the children and their families are my only focus! When in a block of placements, on my days I wasn’t allocated to work, I used to get up at the same time as a placement day (especially this year – final year) and work pretty solidly from 8am – 6pm on my dissertation and other assignments. Now this won’t suit everyone, however by doing this the results show for themselves and remember although nursing isn’t all about the academic work, you need to complete your degree in order to register as a nurse, so the work should never be neglected or left to the last minute.

Some of you may have heard of ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ (picture below). Well for a presentation I did recently, I came up with ‘Jamie’s hierarchy of priorities’ which helped me to order and prioritise my time during busy periods. Yours may be very different, but it’s worth considering where your values lie and what’s important to you and what can be put on hold.

Florence

When we’re on placement we have a document called a PAD (practice assessment document). All London universities use the same document so it’s called a PLPAD (pan-London PAD). This gives us objectives and key skills and values we need to demonstrate during our part of the course.  We have different PADs with different content/objectives each year/progression point of the program (year1/2/3 for BSC or month 0/8/16 for PGDip). If you’re interested, a guide to our PADs for students and nursing mentors, can be found here.

Although many of the trusts have adult nursing, child nursing and sometimes MH nursing facilities, I have to admit I have very rarely seen students from the adult or MH groups, while I am on placement – however I see an awful lot of my child nursing colleagues. Some of us will be working on the same wards or wards nearby and my host trust provides weekly teaching for all children’s nurses to attend – so we get to have a catch up there as well. During university times we often have lectures and seminars with adult nursing and mental health nursing students though and some lectures/seminars with children’s nurses. The BSc and PGDip programmes rarely mix.

Another thing muggles (non-nursing folk) ask all the time is how you cope with the hours we do – 12.5 hours on a day shift (07:30-20:00) and the same on a night shift (19:30-08:00), 24/7, 365 days a year – bank holidays, Christmas and your birthday (potentially). Well to be honest, you just have to knuckle down and crack on with it! The days hardly ever drag and they go quickly, because you’re on your feet pretty much constantly.

You have to remember that patients and their families are in hospital 24/7 and they don’t get rest breaks or to go home at the end of the day. To be honest the quality of sleep patients get in hospital is also very low, so really when we think about them and what they’re going through, on their patient journey, our days don’t seem so bad…However, our job is a stress on your emotions and on you physically sometimes. We all have different ways or strategies to cope with these stresses, but never feel alone!

We do get breaks, (adding up to 1 hour) some places have 2x 30 minute breaks while others allow a small (discretionary break in the morning) and then an 1 hour in the afternoon. Depending on the ward dynamics and timings, you may not always get all of your break and sometimes you may leave your shift late. None of us wants these things to happen, nor in an ideal world should they – especially to supernumerary students, but this is the reality of nursing and if the child and family need us, we will never leave them in the lurch!

You should ideally be going into a placement willing to work any shift within the X amount of weeks you’re there for, however you are permitted to put in up to 5 requests to work a particular shift OR not to work it for every 4 weeks you are there. These are granted at the discretion of the key mentor / student roster writer and aren’t guaranteed until the roster is approved.

DSC_0082

I hope this has provided you with some basic information and my take on life on placement. What you must remember is that being a nurse/student is a wonderful rewarding career when you can make a tangible difference to a child’s life, not just at that moment but one that’ll last their life of 80, 90 maybe even 100 years! That is such a privilege, but that’s not to say it is always easy and nursing is definitely a lifestyle rather than ‘day job’.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me to ask: Jamie.mather@kcl.ac.uk

Funding for nursing students explained by Melissa

My name is Melissa, and I am a postgraduate Adult Nursing student. In this blog I’ll be talking about funding.

Despite recent changes to the funding for undergraduate healthcare subjects, postgraduate diplomas are thankfully unaffected and diploma students will still be entitled to the NHS funded programme of study. This means that not only are your tuition fees paid for but, depending on whether you would be considered an independent (financially self-supporting) or a dependent student (financially reliant on one’s parent(s)/guardian), you may also be able to receive fiscal support for living costs. Click here to find out more!

So how does this process work? Once you receive an offer from King’s – whether it be unconditional or conditional – you will be prompted by UCAS to apply for your bursary. It is important to note that all students who apply to have their tuition fees paid for will receive a £1,000 annual bursary which is not means tested. So around March you can apply for your NHS Bursary, but you have until the end of May to apply and receive your allowance on time for the start of term. The application process is made simple through its step-by-step guide on what to do and, once you’ve filled in the online application with the relevant financial information, you will need to send off relevant original documentation to the given address. It is highly recommended that you use recorded delivery due to the importance of the documents.

Special allowances are also added to an individual’s entitlement, should they be eligible. This includes extra funding for childcare and adult dependents, among others. A London-weighting is also provided due to the high cost of living within a big city.

Once the whole process is complete you’ll be able to log into your account to see how much you are entitled to, and when you will receive your payment. However if your circumstances change during your studies, you are contracted to inform NHS Bursary and your allowance will follow suit. For example, if you are a classified as a dependent student living at home, and throughout the year you move out into your own accommodation, all you will need to do is fill in a ‘Change in circumstance’ form and send it off and your allowance will be altered.

Entitlement to the NHS Bursary is not at all affected by whether you possess a previous degree and/or a previous set of loans.

Lastly it’s important to stress that this may all seem rather daunting and possibly discouraging, but there are many opportunities to find work through King’s College London in order to obtain extra income. King’s also gives away annual scholarships and there is a Hardship Fund which provides eligible students struggling financially with monetary support.

Though the application process may be new and rather time-consuming, NHS Bursaries are the link to higher development and bright career aspects for many individuals. I can attest to this fact as I love my current studies and the career I’m moving into – and that wouldn’t be possible without going through this funding process. We here at King’s encourage you to research your options in regards to funding, and not allow finances to be a barrier between you and your destined career.

For the full list of funding scholarship and funding opportunities click here.

Best wishes,

Melissa Vandy

Adult Nursing