The life of a Child Nursing student

Work hard, play hard! Extracurricular opportunities for Nursing Students…


It’s February – and a later blog submission from me after a very hectic month and a half! Since my last blog I’ve travelled to Amsterdam to take in the sights of the annual Light Festival by Open Boat, headed home for some very snowy walking in the Peak District, and FINALLY got to see a Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum (and caught a few dinosaurs on the way of course!) – I’ve missed it every year so this feels like an achievement – a day off kind of achievement!

I’ve also now commenced my FINAL EVER PLACEMENT on a Children’s Spinal and Orthopaedic Ward and started chipping away at my academic work…the end is near…

So for this months blog I’m going to focus on something I think is often overlooked by Nursing students nationwide. Nursing is quite a demanding programme. We juggle between placements and academic work, often taking in weekends and night shifts and having shorter holidays than most of our student counterparts. It can leave you feeling really time limited.

With good time management you can still make the most of all that City and the Student Life has to offer and give your future job application a nice little boost in doing so! So here’s my Top 10 Extra Curricular Activities you might want to consider alongside your Nursing degree…

1. Sports and Societies

*Puts on Welsh rugby shirt and dances on chair…again…in fact at least daily since Saturday*

University is a fab place to get stuck in to sports and hobbies, old and new and meet lots of like minded people. We have sports teams at every level, a fantastic sports facility and gym under 10 minutes on foot from Northampton Square and a huge selection of over 70 societies to be involved in – everything from Anime to Cocktails!

Check out the Student’s Union pages for more info or keep an eye out for the dates of the Freshers/Refreshers Fairs that happen in September/January every year!

2. Develop your Leadership Skills

In 3rd Year you will likely undertake a module on Leadership and Management in Professional Practice – in fact, under current NMC guidance, all Nursing programmes must contain a leadership component as it is such a core part of what we do out in practice. Want to get ahead? Look for some opportunities to develop your leadership skills throughout your degree programme.

At present the Council of Deans for Health has received funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing to run Student Leadership Programmes for Health Care Students Nationwide. Entry to the Programme is competitive but the University will support your application. I was accepted into Cohort 1 in July 2017 and still remain actively involved- attending a leadership workshop just last month! Emails are sent round by the School of Health Sciences for each new intake – always check your emails!

The Students Union also offer a range of opportunities to develop your leadership skills from their very own leadership award scheme to supporting individuals as School, Programme and Class representatives. Check out the Student’s Union website for more information, or ask your Personal Tutor.

As we are now part of the University of London you are also able to apply to the UOTC (Army), URNU (Navy) and UAS (RAF) – the University equivalent to Cadets – where you can develop a range of skills (including leadership) and get paid for your training – you can find information about this on their respective websites, they take new students based on capacity each year in September. You can usually find them on Social Media and at our Freshers Fair too!

3. Become an Ambassador

At City we have two Ambassador schemes for you to be involved with – and if you find yourself with too much energy (like me!) you can do both! There is no set schedule for Ambassador work which means you can easily fit it around your placements/studies – and earn a bit of money for doing so as well!

Marketing Ambassadors (Red T Shirt Ambassadors) – represent the University and work mostly with prospective students. You get the opportunity to work Open Days (Undergraduate & Postgraduate), Applicant Days, Taster Days, Campus Tours and maybe even get your photograph in the prospectus! Extra opportunities often arise including writing yourself a lovely blog…just like this one! With some extra training you can also go on tour – advertising the University at School/College HE Fairs and larger fairs too like WhatUni and UCAS Fairs. Child Nursing Students also get the opportunity to work Selection Day – to help support future applicants through their interview day!

Widening Participation Ambassadors (Purple T Shirt Ambassadors) – work with partnership schools and colleges from Primary through to Sixth Form/College to promote Higher Education/Further Study. You can work Visit Days, Taster Days/Spotlight Days (which run mini course sessions), School/Assembly Talks or even Taster Weeks. You can have the opportunity to develop and lead your own workshops, or even full day event and with extra application/training you may even choose to mentor/tutor young people in partnership schools on a more regular basis. If you’re very lucky they may draw a scarily accurate portrait of you or design you your very own toothbrush of the future! (Featured above!)

4. Become a Buddy

City has a fantastic mentoring scheme in place for first year students to help support settling into University and engaging with University life. It’s a fab support network for you in your first year – but becomes an incredible opportunity to develop your skills in second and third year – with the additional option to become a paid Buddy Leader – supporting the development of the scheme. You are given bespoke training for the role and are then entrusted with up to four first year students.

5. Blog & Tweet your way to success!

The Nursing world is taking Twitter by storm…so much so the @WeNurses Christmas Quiz managed to trend alongside the Gatwick Drones! I may have flunked out of the Christmas themed quiz badly but it made the extended break in Copenhagen Airport a great deal more festive for me!

There are plenty of Student Nurses there to help you find your way including a @WeStudentNurse team!

Through Twitter you will also find some fab bloggers and vloggers – both Student and Qualified Nurses – charting their journey thus far…

Many NHS Trusts and even specific ward areas can now be found on Twitter too – I found my Nursing job vacancy on Twitter!

6. Elective Placement

Currently at City, the Child Nursing students get the option between a 2 week or 4 week Elective Placement block, allocated during Year 2 of the Programme. Our PGDip Programmes do not include an Elective Placement so Postgrads – I’ll see you again at idea 7…

You can use this opportunity to spend time Nursing abroad through an approved charity or simply chasing an area of nursing that you find really interesting/you may like to pursue as a career.

Wherever they are undertaken, Elective Placements must be self-funded – so this is something to bear in mind!

For my Elective I headed back to Derbyshire for a full 4 weeks and undertook my Elective Placement on Paediatric Theatres. I absolutely loved it – and will be working on Paediatric Theatres when I graduate!

7. Get involved with Research

Again, another fab way to get ahead in years one and two is to start thinking ahead when it comes to research…

Cochrane offers fantastic resources on their website to learn more about types of research and research methods which are useful when you come round to dissertation or indeed later stage assignments.

You can even participate, helping out current research by participating as a “Citizen Scientist” through Cochrane Crowd:

You’ll soon be a pro at recognising different research methods!

The University itself undertakes a great deal of research and they often advertise for participants – particularly in psychology and the health sciences! See if you can get involved – you will get to know more about research and maybe even bag an Amazon voucher in the process.

8. Volunteering

It can be hard to commit to a regular project as a Student Nurse but many still manage to take advantage of the many ad hoc opportunities advertised through City Volunteering. Volunteering is a fantastic way to both make friends and learn and develop skills. Whether it’s preparing Christmas boxes, raising money for charity or even helping lead first aid courses – there are a range of opportunities constantly available both through the University and across London. Some personal favourites include: volunteering to help with the running of local events (e.g. Parkrun), signing up to “Inspiring the future” to give talks and presentations in schools about Nursing, taking part in the Lord Mayors Parade or cheering your favourite charities runners at the London Marathon (all genuine opportunities I have been involved with over the last 2.5 years)

9. Attend Events/Conferences

One of the very best things about being a student in London is the sheer amount of national events that happen on your doorstep! We are just a 30 minute walk from the Royal College of Nursing (Student Membership is just £10 a year) who run Nursing events all year round. The Royal Society of Medicine and many major London Museums including the Science Museum, Florence Nightingale Museum and Wellcome Collection regularly run events of interest also.

Over the last 2.5 years I’ve attended a Medical History Open Mic Night, an Adults Only Science Museum event on Celebration and on Food & Drink, attended a lecture on the use of Art & Music in Nursing and a half day conference on Sickle Cell.

Fab ways to get out and explore, have a bit of fun but tick off some learning in the process – a real triple word score!

10. Guest Lectures & the SHS Film Club

If you don’t quite have the energy to venture out or are hoping for something closer to home – the School of Health Sciences runs some excellent on-campus events to get involved with including a monthly film screening with related Health guest speakers which complement our academic programme, and a range of guest lectures of interest – this month we welcomed Professor Lord Robert Winston!


And that’s all from me this month, I’m off back to placement for the remainder of February…I’ll be back again in March to share A Week in the Life of a Child Nursing Student!


Simulated Practice & Clinical Teaching


It’s January…January 2019 – the year I will qualify as a Registered Children’s Nurse and I cannot put into words how quickly this has come around.

Since my last blog I have enjoyed a beautiful Christmas break including a budget mini break to the beautiful city of Copenhagen, enjoyed some much-needed time relaxing with those closest to me and no escaping it – spent some time chipping away at that daunting dissertation. (This was made substantially easier with a steady supply of festive treats. Future Dissertation Acknowledgements: Salted Caramel Mince Pies and Celebrations (excluding Bounty) DISCLAIMER: Other chocolate brands are available).

The life of a Student Nurse can be quite hectic but despite how busy it seems – taking time out to wind down, and take mental space from your assignments can be a really positive thing and this has certainly helped me to keep pushing though. It’s not about how many hours you while away on an assignment or exam preparation – but more the quality of the hours you put in.

But that’s quite enough resting – 3rd Years started back with 1.5 weeks of Simulated Practice on the 2nd January, so this blog is all about our Simulated Practice modules- how they develop our clinical skills, prepare us for practice and a small amount about Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE). The latter; a clinical, communication and teaching assessment technique utilised by numerous Nursing Schools (including City) as well as future employers in ongoing post-registration training.

Simulated Practice is a module run every year at City and incorporates Mandatory Training required to undertake clinical placements, preparation towards the OSCE- which is how these modules are assessed and graded each year, and further clinical and soft skills to support our personal development and practice.


Mandatory Training 

Every year we cover numerous sessions that are a documented requirement prior to us undertaking our allocated clinical placements. These sessions only cover us to undertake these skills within the remit of Student Nurse in our clinical placements. If alongside your Nursing course you undertake paid work as a Healthcare Assistant or Support Worker – or indeed wish to use these skills in any other capacity e.g. First Aid for an event or as part of other part-time employment- you will need to seek the relevant training elsewhere. Whilst it seems a little counter intuitive to restrict these skills, this is because the University cannot cover you for incidents arising outside of your clinical placements. (Though obviously – in an emergency situation, should you possess CPR or First Aid skills you would not be penalised for putting them to use in the outside world).

These sessions include:

  • First Aid
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)/ Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Manual Handling
  • Safeguarding
  • Fire Safety

Lots of Students consider undertaking First Aid training prior to undertaking the Child Nursing Programme. It is by no means essential and can be quite costly. Your school/college may at some point run a free or discounted course but if this is not an option you could consider choosing work/volunteering/extra-curricular activity that can support you in obtaining this training as well as building experience working with children/ young people e.g. Scouts, Guides, Cadets, Child Care or even Life Guarding. You may also want to look at joining a First Aid Charity – some offer the opportunity to volunteer as a First Aider at major UK Events and Music Festivals).

Supporting Clinical Practice 

As well as providing our Mandatory Training, Simulation offers us the chance to have a practice run at experiences that we might face in real practice. These may consist of classroom-based sessions, learning how to staff a rota or writing a care plan/discharge plan for scenario patients.

More often we take these sessions in our Simulation Wards (See:

Simulation Ward sessions can involve role playing as patients (or parents!) for your colleagues (yes – we do get to have a little lie down in class sometimes!) In 2nd Year we were given Pre and Post-Surgical Patient/Parent Scenarios and were able to practice our Pre and Post-Operative care as if we were on a real Surgical Ward.

There is a limit to what we can practice on one another nowadays – gone are the days of passing NG tubes through your mates’ nose! So, for more invasive skills and more complex care scenarios, we have a variety of mannequin patients. Some of which can be linked up to provide breathing sounds or even a verbal answer.

At City we really benefit from well-placed Simulation classes – we currently receive 2 weeks in 1st and 2nd Year and 4 weeks in 3rd Year, allowing us a good amount of practice in a safe, controlled environment before we face the realities of our clinical placements. I feel this really helps with your confidence when it comes to giving your first injections, or passing your first NG tube, or even your first resus with real patients.

Preparing for an OSCE 

As much as our teaching is preparing us for clinical placements and practicing as a Children’s Nurse, we are also expected to be able to demonstrate these skills for an examination in Spring each year (Current Undergraduate Programme). In Year 1 and 2, we are expected to be able to perform and talk through the rationale of a given clinical skill. We are advised in advance what skills we might expect to see on the exam. In Year 3, we are expected to demonstrate the teaching of the given clinical skill to a Junior Student.

Prior to the OSCE, we are given Clinical Skills sessions – some individual to a skill with theory and time to practice – some mixed sessions where we rotate around a variety of skills. In 3rd Year we are also afforded a Mock Exam where we assess one another and provide feedback.

Outside of the Clinical Skills suites we have access to an online Clinical Skills teaching resource (Elsevier Clinical Skills), which includes background information, checklists, and even demonstration videos.

There are many popular Clinical Skills textbooks available for this also – listen out for recommendations from the lecturers, check your reading list and of course, Level 5 of the fantastic City Library. Many of our resources are available online or have a plentiful library supply meaning buying textbooks is not essential.

I loved “Clinical Skills in Children’s Nursing” (Edited by Imelda Coyne, Freda Neill and Fiona Timmins) and it came recommended by one of the lecturers I have learnt best from, so I purchased a copy with my Student Discount, and it remains the only book I’ve bought on the course!

It’s always best to wait until you’re on the course (however excited you might be about commencing your course!) because: 1) your course will make current recommendations but also, 2) you can go and physically look at the books in the library, and find the one that best suits your learning style.

Be aware that some skills and information is updated or changed over time – even whilst I’ve been on my course some of the skills have changed! It is important, even as a Registered Nurse, to aim to keep on top of current evidence through journals and recent, updated publications – so be careful where you source your revision materials – always follow the method taught in class.

OSCE Assessments 

The idea of an observed practical assessment can seem quite daunting to some, but it’s important to remember that these are skills you will have practiced in class and/or on placement many times before, and they’re not expecting anything out of the ordinary – just for you to safely and confidently perform the skill, demonstrate sound knowledge of the rationale behind the procedure and be able to reflect on your own performance.

Here’s 5 Top Tips to help you rock your OSCE:

  • Prepare and prepare again– I plan out the weeks leading up to the exam to thoroughly cover each skill, in which I’m sure my lecturers would deem to be a ridiculous level of detail. I build up a note book or folder containing all these skills – almost like a mini textbook. I leave a few weeks to spare towards the end of this revision plan, and in the week or two before the exam I drop these detailed notes down to simple flashcards of essentials and cover multiple skills in one revision session.
  • Do not cram! – You all know what I mean – I did 3 Science A Levels, if I told you I didn’t frantically pace my bedroom sobbing out equations and formulas the night before an exam, I’d be lying to you. But dragging yourself into a written exam with bags under your eyes bigger than a Year 7s bag on PE day, that’s a whole different matter to doing so in a Practical Exam where you must present yourself professionally and perform a physical skill. (Though I do not advise this technique for any exam or deadline!) Take time to wind down and relax the night before to ensure you get a full, quality night of sleep. If that requires you to pop on a novelty polar bear sheet mask, Spongebob Onesie, and sing along with Bridget Jones like you don’t have neighbours – then do it! Whatever a relaxing night in is for you! Encourage your cohort to do the same by amusing them with Boomerangs of your crazy sheet mask and not by Whatsapp guessing what skills might come up/ what skills you are dreading! Positivity and relaxation – not typing like a crazy kitty!
  • There’s no marks for speed – Yes, you do need to try and see the skill through to completion in the allocated time, but I find clinical skills are rather like shoelaces – the faster you try to do them the more impossible they seem, the more it looks like you must be wearing some sort of invisible boxing gloves, and the more flustered and panicked you both become and appear! Pace yourself – take a deep breath!
  • Pack your bag the night before  I know right? I should get this on a T-Shirt, I blog it so much! It’s getting out of hand. However, for the OSCE you need to be in full and correct uniform, and in possession of a pen, fob watch and your University ID card (and minus the fancy nails you got over the Easter Holidays). Save yourself the panic and have all these things in place the night before.
  • “Let them bring on all their problems, I’ll do better than my best!” Walk into the OSCE exam in a positive frame of mind – not quite the suitcase swinging trot through Salzburg I’m quoting here – but a belief that you can do this! I pop away the flash cards a few hours before the exam and focus on a good breakfast or lunch, numerous laps of a Mario Kart (avoiding Rainbow Road which is an obvious confidence crusher!), and blast my best motivational Spotify playlist en route to the University (replace with your personal best activities to unwind). You may want to try a meditation app, adult colouring, reading, taking a walk…whatever helps take your mind fully off the OSCE for just a short while. What you don’t know at this point, you likely won’t in the exam – so deep breath, big smile – think of how fab you’ll feel when it’s over!

And that’s me all out of wisdom for January – next week I start my FINAL EVER NURSING PLACEMENT – the GIGANTIC 13 Week Management Placement! Super exciting! See you all soon with an update and some top tips for preparing for clinical placement!

What to expect at a Child Nursing Selection Day

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As you may already know, I’m currently in my 3rd and Final Year of the Child Nursing Programme – so December has been very busy for me! I’ve met with my Dissertation Supervisor for the first time (an Academic Staff Member assigned to your chosen topic to support you through your 6,000-word Literature Review) and I have been busy working towards my Leadership Essay and Teaching OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) – more about these next month! 

Despite the workload, I’ve managed to squeeze in plenty of fun around my studies this month including running 10KM for Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity dressed as Santa and helping lead a Student Nurse Christmas Twitter Disco – my very first Tweet Chat! 

Over at the School of Health Sciences, Admissions Tutors David & Lucas have been busy making final preparations for the upcoming Child Nursing Selection Days – which means if you’ve applied to us – you may well be invited to the campus in the coming months. 

So, for this blog I’ll be sharing all my hints, tips and insider information about all things Selection Day. 

Choosing a University 

At this stage you may be feeling a little confused – with the UCAS application permitting up to five choices of University you can be left in a bit of a dilemma as to which University you should bless with that precious Firm Choice – it’s not uncommon to be left torn between a couple of excellent choices at this stage. 

The great thing about Nursing is that the degree programme is regulated by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) you can expect a set standard of education and some commonalities in the training wherever you choose to go.  

Choosing a University is a very personal decision but to help you in considering us – here are the top 5 reasons I chose City (in no particular order). 

  • Variety is the spice of life – We have links with a range of NHS Trusts and Community providers across North, East and Central London. As such I have benefited from placements in smaller University Trusts, large teaching hospitals, dedicated Children’s Hospitals as well as Special Educational Needs (SEN) Schools, Private Hospitals and Community clinics. I really liked the diversity of placement opportunities on offer at City – I wasn’t sure where I wanted to take my Nursing Career at first and the structure of the course at City has enabled me to take on a wide variety of opportunities and discover where I am best placed.
  • London Calling – London is a City like no other! London never stops and with a great variety of free and discounted opportunities on your doorstep you will easily be able to keep yourself busy! Not to mention ample opportunities for flexible and temp working. The City also benefits from its diversity – City University of London alone has an international community of students from over 150 different countries making for a vibrant student community. Despite being 125 miles away from home London’s great transport links have meant I’ve been able to not only get back to my beautiful home but grab some fabulously cheap flights to continue ticking off my HUGE list of European destinations on a student budget! 
  • Surround yourself only with those who will lift you higher – From Day 1 I have been impressed with the Academic and Personal Support services at City. In 1st Year, daunted by a return to education after 4 full years (8 years since my A Levels) I was driven to tears wondering how on earth I could ever face an essay. City’s Academic Learning Success team and Library ran both in course and bookable workshops covering topics such as Academic Writing, Referencing and even Note Taking. I further scheduled a 1:1 Writing Clinic appointment to support my essay development and after all of that smashed an excellent 80% in my very first assignment. Couldn’t have done it without them! (Thanks David Shah!) Further to this – through troubled personal times, which can and do happen, my Personal Tutor has been a hero! A listening ear, a source of tailored signposting to better personal and academic support or even just a daft joke or bit of reassurance that I can and will make it through.  
  • A home away from home – I originally hail from a tiny village in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (think Emmerdale but real with far less drama and far more sheep!) I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I find London incredibly daunting at times. I love that City have a one location (for Child Nursing students when not on placement), compact campus, tucked away from the hustle and bustle – but equally walking distance from some excellent social spots. With just under 20,000 students at present in total it makes for a small and friendly feel on campus – as quite an active student I find it impossible to take on the Main Walkway nowadays without saying a friendly hello to someone I know by name.  
  • The door is always open – I talk to a lot of prospective students and I’d say this is my biggest and best piece of UCAS/University choice advice! VISIT THE CAMPUS! At the end of the day, you’re going to spend three long years at your chosen University and whilst websites, league tables and prospectuses provide a wealth of information I personally feel that this cannot replace being on the campus and getting a feel for the place. From the moment I walked through the door I loved City – the friendly staff, the compact and quiet campus, the relaxed feel. On paper, I’ll be honest I had given other Universities some consideration – but the day I visited for interview it really was love at first sight! As a Child Nursing applicant ultimately, you will always visit the places that select you for interview.

If you are reading this blog from further back in this process and are looking forward to 2020 entry onwards you may wish to explore:

Undergraduate Open Day:  

Campus Tours: 

Taster Days:


Child Nursing Selection Day

Thinking back to my own Selection Day I was very nervous, didn’t know quite what to expect and wasn’t certain how to best prepare for my interview. So, I’m going to do my best to help you know what to expect, how to prepare and to hopefully feel a little less nervous about your upcoming Selection Day!

(Please note that the details disclosed in this blog are correct at the time of publication (December 2018) and whilst they offer a general overview of the 2019 Entry Admissions Cycle for BSc Child Nursing, the process could be subject to minor changes and there may be differences to the process for other Nursing courses. Visit the City Selection Day pages for more details:


What to Expect: Get to know City University of London

Current Child Nursing Students: Our Selection Days are supported by a team of current Child Nursing Student’s. They are a fantastic resource for you as an applicant as they have lived through the course and can offer a first-hand account of what it is like to be a Child Nursing Student at City. They will guide you around the Campus on a tour, lead you through the smooth running of the day and be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Current Academic Staff & Trusts: During the day there will be a chance to explore a poster presentation from our Academics – giving you the chance to gain an insight into the extensive clinical and academic backgrounds of those leading your clinical and theoretical teaching here on campus. There will also be the chance to learn more about the Trusts we work closely with – and where you may be allocated clinical placements.

(It is important to note that at present on the Child Nursing Programme; students rotate around various Trusts for their training. This is a fantastic system as it offers us good variation of placement opportunities. Our placements team always endeavour where possible, to allocate within a reasonable travelling distance of your given term time address. As Nursing Students, we are expected to work shift patterns that reflect the service we are allocated to – this can be 12.5 hour shifts including weekends (and Night Shifts from 2nd Year). Bear this in mind when considering your possible accommodation options. More information on Accommodation is available at:

Our Campus: As part of the Selection Day Programme you will be offered the opportunity to take a student led tour of our campus – allowing you to get a feel for the University, explore the various support services and facilities on offer as well as the chance to see our Nursing teaching facilities and Simulation Wards. More information can be found by following the range of useful links below – or by searching the City Homepage.

Student Support:

Fees & Funding:


Student Union:



What to Expect: The Selection Process

Cambridge Personal Styles Questionnaire (CPSQ) (Prior to Selection Day): Before attending the Selection Day you will be sent a link via e-mail to complete the CPSQ. This online questionnaire assesses personal qualities and ways of working and the results will be taken into consideration alongside other selection methods in assessing your potential. It is recommended you undertake the test on a computer (desktop/laptop) rather than a mobile device and read the instructions and questions carefully.

There’s no right or wrong way to answer the questions and it is strongly recommended that you answer honestly – rather than attempt to generate what you believe the University wants to hear. Answering honestly is important because the results can be used to support your personal development on the degree programme but also because a wide range of qualities and ways of working are fitting in a profession as broad as Nursing. There’s no perfect profile!

Scenario Based Question Paper: On Selection Day you will be required to sit a written question paper. The questions will pose scenarios relevant to Nursing and ask you to explore what is presented to you. You are not expected to possess strong clinical knowledge for these – more an awareness and understanding of the issues within them. It is an opportunity to showcase both your knowledge and understanding of what it is to be a Nurse but also to showcase your personal qualities in describing how you would approach the situations presented.

Please note: City endeavour to support student’s learning needs – and this includes those of our potential students. If you think you may be eligible for extra support or time in completing this assessment – please make Admissions aware in advance of your Selection Day.

Group Based Interview: At the BSc Child Nursing Selection Day you will also be interviewed but rather than a traditional set up, answering questions posed by a panel – City makes use of a group-based interview. They will still be looking for you to be able to share examples and experiences and of course your motivation to study Child Nursing but this will be embedded in a group activity. This means they are not only looking at the content of your answers but also how you work and interact with others. This group session will be assessed by a member of the academic team and usually one other – this may be a further academic, a placement provider or even a service user.


Lou’s Top Tips for Selection Days

  • Don’t be late! Obviously arriving late doesn’t create a good impression but equally, running late can leave you feeling flustered and set you off to a bad start. Leave with plenty of time to reach our campus and try to plan alternative travel routes (we are equally accessible from Angel and Farringdon/Barbican meaning should you face travel disruption there may be another route available).
  • Do some pre-reading – Take the time to read around – not only about Child Nursing as a career but also about the University and Course. City need to be satisfied that you have the right motivation towards the course and the career. BUT…also bear in mind, Selection Day is as much about City choosing you, as it is you choosing City! Cheesy – but important!
  • Be prepared – You will be required to bring some documents to interview. All details will be sent to you before the Selection Day. Check these details carefully and prepare what you need the night before. This places you in good habits for the course itself as this is exactly how students are advised to prepare themselves for placement!
  • Dress Code – Adhere to the dress code advised in your Selection Day invite but bear in mind that your Selection Day may include a campus tour and you need to ensure that whilst smart, you are comfortable and able to partake in these activities. Also bear in mind we are a short walk from the nearby stations and you should consider the weather on the day.
  • Know your Personal Statement – (Not by heart!) Have a read through of your Personal Statement – you likely spent a long time working on it and the content has successfully got you through to the selection stage. It’s worth reflecting on your motivations, skills and experiences ahead of the interview and your Personal Statement is a nice short summary of this.
  • Know your skills/qualities (and back them up with examples) – A piece of advice I often recommend to Nursing Applicants pre-personal statement is to consider their current skills in relation to Nursing. Prior to the course I had no real clinical experience, but I did have skills/qualities that could come in useful in a clinical environment. For example, at the time of my interview I had never had to calm a 7-year-old down prior to a medical procedure – but I had previously calmed a 7-year-old down 40ft in the air to successfully get them to step off a zip wire. Skills and qualities are transferable – what strengths/qualities can you bring to Child Nursing and what examples can you give?
  • Be yourself – It’s very easy to want to sell yourself as the “perfect nurse” and what you believe the University are looking for. Nursing is an increasingly diverse profession and it really does require a wide range of personalities and skill sets. You are your own expert – so sell yourself and avoid comparing to others or trying to present what you think a Nurse should be.
  • Have a good night’s sleep and breakfast – for fear of sounding like your parent/guardian I won’t expand on this one! It speaks for itself! Your Selection Day is important and you need to be on top form!


Lou’s Golden Piece of Interview Advice: I was once told “You’ve no need to be scared – how do you think they got on the other side of the table? They stood where you are!” It did very little to waylay my fear at that moment, but it’s helped me at every interview/selection since! I hope it helps you!

I want to wish you all the very best of luck with your applications and hope you take some time to enjoy the festive season too! If you have any questions you can direct them to the Health Admissions Team at:

Wishing you all a Happy Holidays! I’ll be back again with another blog in January – exploring all the excitement of learning through Simulated Practice!

Top 10 Study Tips for Student Nurses

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It’s November – the days are getting darker, colder, and shorter but it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying my Student Life! Since my last blog I’ve had the opportunity to visit Cochrane UK to give feedback and ideas on student engagement as well as sneaking dinner and late-night walks in the beautiful, historic city they call home – Oxford (just 50 minutes on the train from London Paddington!)

I learnt to crochet a granny square – putting me one step closer to my dream of donating hand made gifts to the preemies and even found the time to scale 2,087ft of the Peak District’s finest moorland plateau – Kinder Scout.

And of course, not forgetting – securing my Nursing Job! My dream of joining Paediatric (Children’s) Theatres (in my top choice Trust) lined up ready to go 6-7 months before my course finishes!

Looks like I’ve been living the dream, right? Well between those perfect Insta shots the reality of 3rd Year is very much putting my beloved list pads to good use!

Being a Nursing Student today requires wholeheartedly embracing the idea of Evidence Based Medicine – incorporating our best ideas from research and clinical knowledge to offer the very best care we can – which requires as much commitment to our academic learning as to our practice (2300 hours: 2300 hours to be exact!)

If you would like to understand more about Evidence Based Medicine check out Cochrane UK’s video about it on Youtube!

The academic rigour of modern-day nursing can be daunting to some – many students worry that they may struggle with the academic component of the course – a concern I certainly hear expressed by potential applicants more so than concerns about under-performing on placement.

Even for the academically driven, the Nursing Programme itself – with its fluctuating schedules and long placement hours can sometimes present itself as a real juggling act of shifting priorities.

Over the last two years my academic practice and learning methods have taken some refining and in places radical changes to generate those all-important results. So, for this month’s blog I took a little time out – with my Christmas blend coffee and my favourite caramel shortbread to ponder my top ten tips for effective study as a Student Nurse!

Remember: Everybody is different! We all learn in very different ways and all ten of my suggestions have aided me personally in my Nursing Studies – they might not all fit your style. However, I urge you to try new techniques, and engage with and develop your learning style over time. A change is as good as a rest as they say!

Study Tip #1: Maintain a Social Life – It’s very tempting when those Assignment Deadlines are looming to convince yourself that even thinking of having fun will drop your grade a classification and bring forth all doom! My favourite response to this is – last Christmas (2017) I spent a week in Amsterdam (that’s 222 miles away from my Anatomy & Physiology Exam Notes) and I still made the grade! Now I’m not at all suggesting tossing away your current module and submitting yourself to a week of Stroopwafels, cheese and a tiny pair of souvenir clogs will fix your study problems. The take home message here is – you are only human – and humans are social beings that thrive on interaction – so much so there’s whole degree programmes out there studying this very trait! So, get up, stretch, leave the room – have food with your flat mates, get yourself out to Zumba, go to the pub quiz, take the bus all the way to Oxford Street for a cookie you and your friend could have had down the road. For non-local students – book that train home for a weekend! Take that break, enjoy yourself and return to that assignment feeling refreshed! Get the balance right!

Top Tip: I colour code my diary!

  • BLUE = Placement
  • YELLOW = University
  • PINK = Paid Work
  • GREEN = Events/Classes (e.g. Conferences, Extra Sessions, Gym Classes)
  • ORANGE = Everything I love in life!

That way I get a sweet little overview of how balanced my life is! Yes, my orange zone some weeks might just be Great British Bake Off and WhatsApp but – if it generates conversation, gives me a giggle and gets me away from my desk then it’s worth pencilling in! It’s as worthy as all those deadlines and working hours.

Study Tip #2: Looking after number one! My Personal Tutor always likes to remind me that you can’t truly care for others unless you first care for yourself. In fact, self-care is a developing phenomenon within Nursing as many believe optimum self-care helps build the resilience needed to handle the demands of the profession.

  • Eat well – BBC Good Food is a fab starting point! Carry healthy snacks and always try and prepare that nutritious lunch the night before – a fab way to stick to your budget and maintain a balanced diet in one!
  • Exercise – Keeping active can be a well-planned energy boost! If I’m feeling sluggish and my mind is drifting – I close my books and head to the gym or for a lap of Hampstead Heath. You don’t have to be the next Athletic Union Rep to boss this! Download Couch 2 5k, try a YouTube Yoga class or even just take a brisk walk outside.
  • Sleep – As a Student Nurse we know how important sleep is for your health – yet somehow a lot of us seem to be pulling all-nighters on academic work? Your brain needs rest too! Try and get to bed on time – avoid getting pulled into that next episode of Netflix/next chapter of that book you’re reading, by setting yourself a “Go to Bed” alarm as well as a “Wake Up” one.

Study Tip #3: Alternative sources of learning – We have our lectures and additional resources loaded onto the University Moodle, but I have been a lot more experimental outside of the standard reading list. For my Anatomy & Physiology Module I loved the Ross & Wilson textbook and purchased the accompanying workbook with fill the gaps, colouring pages and questions for less than £20 on Amazon. I also drew upon YouTube for all manner of videos – everything from five-minute crash courses of the body systems to allowing The Muppets to explain phenomenology (I’m serious – check it out). I’ve also been a keen follower of Podcasts – filling my Tube journey with easy listen learning from – Nursing Standard, Spotting the Sick Child, The Resus Room, AskMatron, and my all-time favourite – Two Paeds in a Pod!

Study Tip #4: Flash Cards and Voice Recording – Our busy schedules and commuting times make flashcards the ideal study companion – in my first year I even laminated my favourites to sit on the bike at the gym. Keeping both my legs and brain active – and it seemed to work! When talking to prospective students about self-study at University I also like to draw on my old time favourite and too often disregarded revision technique. Reading notes aloud and recording them so that you can listen to them anywhere! On my previous degree programme, I used to get one of my best friends to read my notes on my behalf, so I could listen to his fantastic Glaswegian accent and enjoy his lack of knowledge of Medicinal Chemistry in him trying to get his tongue around drug and chemical name pronunciations. I found his mispronunciations helped me to remember a great deal more than I could have achieved myself – I knew what he was trying to say, and it gave me a bit of a laugh (so much so I must confess there were a few obviously fictional prescriptions thrown in there! Flamingomycin – that mystery antibiotic!)

Study Tip #5: Make a cuppa and settle down for some extra reading – Lecturers often refer to further sources of relevant information in their teaching sessions. You can also access recommended link texts, journal articles and web pages both through the reading list and the modules Moodle page. Take the time out and dedicate it to going over some of these extra recommendations – they may help you with an idea for your assignment or prove useful to refer to later when out on placement. They’re endorsing it for a reason!


Study Tip #6: Engage with the extra support on offer! – City University offers a vast variety of study workshops – referencing, note taking, revision methods, literature reviews…whatever is troubling you – there’s a workshop for that! You can even book a 1:1 appointment with a Writing Advisor through Academic Learning Support or with your dedicated Subject Librarian. These sessions are designed to aid your success and these dedicated learning staff are there to help you it’s their job! Help them to help you.


Study Tip #7: Talk it out – Sometimes assignment ideas seem to behave rather like my headphones do when I leave them unattended – a tangled mess that I can’t make sense of. I’ve found calling a friend – someone not on the course – often someone with no knowledge of nursing and talking about my ideas generally really useful. When explaining a topic out loud to someone with no prior knowledge you often find new connections and ways to articulate your ideas that help you put pen to paper. Avoid discussing ideas (unless directed through lecturers) with fellow cohort members as you can often unintentionally put yourself at risk of Academic Misconduct/Plagiarism.

Study Tip #8: Make positive use of Social Media – No, I’m not talking about sharing breath taking pictures of beaches accompanied by a motivational quotes/mantra to live your life by. I’m talking about following professional groups like the Nursing & Midwifery Council, the Institute of Health Visiting, the Kings Fund, Public Health England, Cochrane (I could go on forever!) on Social Media to keep on top of current policy and guidance, as well as following peers studying Nursing and other Allied Health degrees who may share posts or ideas helpful to your own studies. Tweet chats and Student led Twitter pages such as @WeStudentNurse and @StNurseProject are a fab starting point for engaging with Twitter. Just today on Twitter, I found a blog to support my understanding of statistics, a document about the use of Quality Improvement in Health Care and a date/time for an upcoming Student Tweet Chat all about Dissertation.

Before engaging on Social Media, professional or otherwise, take the time to review the NMC Guidance on Social Media:


Study Tip #9: Prevention is better than a cure – If you are struggling with an assignment or the ideas addressed in a module, it’s likely this won’t be resolved if you choose to address it 48 hours before your deadline/exam. Pounce on your problems early! Don’t understand how to reference in the University style – contact a librarian. Personal circumstances impacting on your ability to study – contact your Personal Tutor. Think that you may benefit from Dyslexia/Dyspraxia testing – contact Learning Success at your earliest opportunity. Addressed early, adjustments can be put into place, support can be given and problems more easily resolved. Don’t sit on your issues waiting for them to hatch! Equally University level study is more independent in nature and you are expected to put in the effort/leg work. Turn up to a lecturer, having not accessed Moodle or undertaken any independent effort of reading/learning, and they are unlikely to support you. Give everything your best and they will likely be delighted to support you that step further!


Study Tip #10: Follow your heart! – In Second Year, I found myself straying from the crowd with my essay topic. I was warned against it by friends, I doubted myself for many weeks and almost gave in…but I was passionate about my chosen issue and I’m stubborn – so I stuck with it. I came out with a fantastic grade!

If you have a genuine interest in a topic, you enjoy reading about it and can talk for England on it – it’s likely that dedication will show in your work and ultimately in your result! The most frequently shared piece of advice for choosing a dissertation remains – choose something you enjoy! Embrace that in as many academic assignments as you can, and you won’t go far wrong!

And that’s all folks – ten top tips that have so far supported my study success (and long may it continue!) I’ll be back again in December to report on the BSc Child Nursing Selection Day ahead of that all important UCAS Deadline (15th January 2019 for 2019/20 entry).

Child Nursing: Placements

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It’s Week Nine of Year Three and we are finally back on campus for the first time since our OSCE exams in April! (If any current students are reading this…you will know that I personally have been on campus an awful lot – working Open Days, training Buddies, assisting with Nursing Selection Days…but probably unbeknown to you I haven’t actually had an academic reason to be here for some time!)

It’s been only three days and over the next few months I’m going to have plenty of campus based study to write about so for this blog I’m going to focus instead on everything you’ve ever dreamt of knowing about Clinical Placements which make up a whopping 50% of our course! (Please note all information stated in this blog is correct as experienced in the September 2016 cohort entry to the Child Nursing Programme and may be subject to change). Below you’ll find three sections – a breakdown of placement experiences, answers to frequently asked questions about placements and a short summary of my most recent placement experience on Neonatal Intensive Care. Read as little or as much as is useful or interesting to you!


BSc Child Nursing Placement Experiences

Throughout the three years – BSc Child Nursing students undertake 10 placement blocks. In Year One you are offered two six week placements – half spent Health Visiting or in Nurseries and the other half spent on a general children’s ward.

Year Two brings more variety and complexity with five placement blocks:

  • Ward – Another general Children’s Ward placement – similar to first year but allocations will try to vary your experience with the types of Ward you are allocated
  • Acute – One from either Accident & Emergency/Theatres/Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Specialist – Can include Mental Health settings, Nurse Specialists, Research Nursing, Children’s Community Nursing Teams or even Private settings
  • Schools – Either School Nursing or a placement within a Special Educational Needs (SEN) School
  • Elective – is completely down to you! Either a full four weeks or two weeks topped up by a University based project – you plan and undertake your own placement OUTSIDE of the Universities partner Trusts. Some undertake Electives abroad through approved charities – others find Trusts elsewhere in London or the UK, often seeking a speciality of interest to them. Some students even choose to spend time with other professionals e.g. paramedics or social workers.

Year Three kick starts with two four week placements – one on the Ward and one further Acute and finishes with one massive thirteen week block; your final management placement.


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (Placements)


What will you need for placement? Three sets of uniform (tunics and trousers) were supplied to us by the University at the start of the course. Helpfully they have a Uniform Fitting session which means you know you are taking away the right size. Further uniform is also available for purchase through the suppliers. Shoes you have to sort yourself but it is better to wait until you are on the course for two key reasons. One, Universities and Trusts have differing Uniform policies – what one University deems suitable footwear may not be appropriate elsewhere – so you should always first consult the Uniform Policy. Two, once you are a Registered Student you benefit from lots of rather handy Student Discounts that may make this shopping trip less costly! You will also require a fob watch – as Nurses we have to work “bare below the elbow” to ensure good hand hygiene so you won’t be able to wear your watch. Fob watches are cheap but also are often included in goodie bags when you sign up to the Royal College of Nursing/Unison.


How are placements allocated?

The Placement Allocations team arrange all our placement experiences aside from your aforementioned Elective. As Child Nursing Students we move between Trusts and Boroughs experiencing a wide range of services. The team take into account your London Term Time address and travel routes to the available areas and always try to keep travel time within 1 hour 30 minutes each way where possible. They also aim to offer a wide range of placement experiences to ensure you are afforded good opportunities to cover the full assessed skill set across the year. We are able to put forward preferences where there is a particular area of interest to us and final management placement is allocated from four area preferences and a small comments section made available at the start of third year. Generally the team aim to upload our placement allocation four weeks before the start of a placement – from there it’s up to us to make contact, obtain our rota and prepare ourselves for our new allocation.


How are students supported on placements?

We have a variety of support available to us during Clinical Placements. Every Placement area has an Academic Staff Member allocated as a contact – known as a “Link Lecturer” they will often visit or provide drop-in sessions during the placement blocks to check in with you. Most teaching hospitals additionally have a “Practice Education Facilitator” – a Nurse in charge of Pre-Registration Education on site who will make themselves known to you. Whilst on placement the area will assign you a Nurse Mentor who will co-ordinate your learning but to get the best out of a placement area you can also enjoy time working with other clinical staff members (only 40% of your placement time needs to be undertaken with your allocated mentor).


How do students learn on placement?

As well as working under supervision of Nurses to achieve assessed skills and gain feedback on your clinical practice, you can also arrange time with other professionals and in other related link areas. For example, on my Health Visiting Placement I spent time with the GP, Practice Nurse, Community Midwife, Community Pharmacist, Dietician, and Social Prescriber. I even took time out to attend a Breastfeeding Workshop and the Diabetes Education Service to broaden my community experience and learning. I was then afforded the opportunity to feedback my learning to my Health Visiting mentor which helped update her own breastfeeding advice to the current protocol.

Whilst you have defined skills to achieve each year, there is also space to input personal learning objectives. As a student you are “supernumerary” which means you don’t count in the staff numbers – make the most of this freedom and explore opportunities across the Multi-Disciplinary team.


How do you prepare for a placement?

With four weeks ahead of a placement it’s wise to put in a little pre-reading ahead of your placement. When I make contact with a placement area for the first time, I always make sure to confirm Uniform Policy (where we are not required to wear the City Uniform) and ask if there is any reading they can recommend. Lots of placement areas now provide Student Induction Packs which are made available to us online or can be sent across by e-mail. These often include common conditions, procedures and medications we might expect to come across – enabling us to read ahead and attend placement well versed in the basics.


Can I work alongside the course?

A very common question that often occurs when I talk about placements is whether we can undertake paid work alongside the course. Our placement experiences are expected to cover a full 24/7 picture of care (including weekends and nights!) Hours vary from 12.5 hour rotational shifts 3 or 4 days a week to 8 hour weekdays.

The University asks that you undertake no more than 48 hours of work in any seven day period (including placement and any paid/unpaid work hours). So 12.5 x 4 = no paid work that week!

Plenty of students, myself included manage to upkeep paid work alongside their course! In London there are plenty of opportunities to work ad-hoc either for the University or for Hospitality events and other agencies – where you simply sign up to work only the events you are available for.

If you have no prior HCA (Health Care Assistant) experience you can also join the Staff Bank after successful completion of First Year. This is often good pay and also helps contribute to building your clinical skills. Many students come to the course with prior HCA experience which they upkeep on the Bank or transfer to a local Trust Bank.


Life on Placement: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Acute)

I have just completed a four week Acute Placement on a busy Level Three Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – Level Three means they take some of the smallest and critically unwell babies in London (and often from settings outside of London too!)

Neonatal Intensive Care Nurses undertake further Postgraduate Training – attending University Part Time to work in this specialist environment which meant that in comparison to the Wards I had to work under closer supervision than I had maybe grown used to – taking my own caseload of patients in Year Two.

I was provided with a question booklet that included researching common conditions of prematurity that I might see on the unit, developing a care plan for a term baby and drug calculation practice. In Neonatal medicine, drug dosages are often astonishingly small in comparison – so it is important to refine your calculation skills and learn how to convert between milligrams, micrograms and nanograms.

I received teaching from the Doctors through Clinical Simulation sessions and from the Breastfeeding Specialist Nurse – I can now confidently teach a new mum to breastfeed!

The Trust also ran scheduled teaching sessions available for all Student Nurses to attend through their dedicated Education Centre – I was on shift and attended a Chaplain led session on managing bereavement.

I was able to develop my clinical skills – performing heel prick tests for blood spots and capillary gas/glucose testing. I passed Nasogastric feeding tubes and fed via bottle and Nasogastric tube. I learnt how to suction an endotracheal tube and how to understand ventilator settings. I also learnt the checking process for blood products for transfusion and the extra observations needed during transfusion therapy.

In Year Two our pathophysiology module teaches us the basics of Neonatology – covering common conditions of both the term and preterm neonate – Jaundice, Necrotising Enterocolitis, Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Patent Ductus Arteriosus. I was able to observe and assist care for babies with these conditions first hand.

I saw new admissions straight from Obstetric Theatres and Delivery Suite through to long term patients finally discharged home with Mum and Dad. I reassured, helped take family photos, explained procedures and helped new parents out.

I was able to undertake my annual assessed “Episode of Care” on this placement – leading the care of two HDU (High Dependency Unit) babies across a shift. I had to liaise with Doctors, Pharmacists, Speech and Language Therapists. I was communicating changes and delegating task to my Mentor throughout the shift and had to deliver both written notes and a verbal handover to the Night Shift Nurse at the end of my shift. I had to write up my own reflections on this experience before receiving written feedback on my performance from my mentor.

Importantly, I was dreading this placement. I did not feel confident, I was concerned about the complexity of the care offered in this environment and having predominantly worked with older children and teenagers prior to the course I have never really considered myself a baby fan. This placement turned all of that around (much to the concern of my boyfriend who prefers his grand ideas of road tripping the USA and selecting a cute Labrador to me deciding babies are my thing). I enjoyed the autonomy with which Intensive Care Nurses work – and experiencing the varied roles available for career progression within the unit. I enjoyed experiencing the varied levels of care and working with a huge range of professionals. I experienced exceptional family centred care from teaching and supporting new parents to supplying cute little memory boxes containing knitted gifts from kind donors in the community. I was also excited to see the amount of research that was active within the department. As a former A Level Science nerd, research is something I am keen to explore throughout my nursing career and the relatively new and exciting specialism of Neonates affords a great deal of opportunity to become research active.

And that’s me for October! I’m off to spend a little me time trying to teach myself to knit on YouTube so that one day I might knit teeny, tiny bobble hats for preemies! Too cute!

From Application to Final Year: My Journey So Far

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I’m Lou – a bubbly, relentlessly energetic Yorkshire lass in my 3rd and Final Year of the BSc (Hons) Child Nursing degree.

The last two years have been an absolute whirlwind of adventures but I’m going to do my best to talk you through my Nursing journey from Pre-Application to here – right now, sitting on my laptop, Floor 6 of the library looking out over Central London with my coffee and banana! Scroll or read to the end for my personal top five interview/application tips!

It’s Friday – 12th of August 2016. Lunchtime. I’m juggling the post lunch dishes, cups, and cutlery from 24 preschool children – attempting to assist the chef – she’s alone today so I stayed to help load the dishwasher. I’d been in the Preschool for 6 months – taking the occasional blocks out to train with the Royal Navy Reserve and manage Summer Youth Programmes. Balancing work, volunteering and adventurous activities and often pushing 7-day weeks had become a norm for me – this week was no different…

I finished my A Levels in 2008 achieving AAB in Biology, Chemistry and Drama & Theatre Studies. I undertook an Apprenticeship in Outdoor Education, tried my hand at two years of a BSc in Chemistry and hopped from one seasonal job slot to the next: stilt walking the ports of Mexico dressed as a clown, swinging through the trees of the French of Alps in my climbing harness and even firing Barbie from cannons in the name of the fire triangle to teach school groups at the Science Museum in South Kensington. I worked with children and young people 0-19, achieved management positions and even won awards – but I never really found job satisfaction.

So here I am loading a dishwasher when one of the nicest and most polite colleagues I have ever worked with in my time spoke out: “You’re wasting your life!”

I was stunned – I listened in awe as she told me about her ICU (Intensive Care Unit) Nurse Training at Great Ormond Street – the course, the placements, the opportunities…opportunities that I had just the right qualifications, skill mix and personality to chase in her opinion. So why was she instead watching me dancing to Take That loading the dishwasher?


I went home for the weekend and began avidly researching – Nursing degree programmes, Nursing careers, opportunities for career progression in Nursing, where you can work as a Nurse…

As a child I wanted to be an Ice Skater, a fireman, to play in a Military Band, to teach, to be a DentistI’d never considered Nursing. Nursing in my mind was trotting about with a camping lantern taking 20 versions of my grumpy old grandad their morning brew. Nursing was not leading teams, researching, teaching, developing skills and knowledge throughout a career, working solely with children, young people and their families…in effect everything that I was seeking in a career!

Results day was in a matter of days, the University web pages were awash with Clearing vacancies – why wait? I had written up and submitted the UCAS statement by Wednesday, had a phone interview Thursday, and on Friday – just one week after my colleague took it upon herself to tell me I was wasting my precious time on this planet, I arrived in London for my interview at City.

It was one day later – Saturday, on a train out of Waterloo my e-mail pinged – one little ping changing the course of my life forever.

From that first booklet refreshing my A Level Biology to giving my first injection on a plastic bottom – I spent the first 9 months of my degree building my knowledge and skills in the safety of the University lecture theatres, seminar rooms and state of the art Simulation Ward facilities – thankful of the opportunity and keen to absorb everything!

I spent 12 weeks in Clinical Practice – the first half in the homes, children’s centres and community clinics of Tower Hamlets exploring the role of the Health Visitor. Not so dissimilar to my role in the preschool I felt at home and took great interest in the unforeseen autonomy of community practitioners.

My final six weeks of first year I spent on a children’s respiratory ward – my first ever clinical experience, I’d never been on a hospital ward before in my life. Everything was new and exciting, and I spent every Tube journey pouring through every book on asthma, cystic fibrosis and respiratory medicine I could get my hands on.


Second year appeared from nowhere and within just six weeks of teaching I was back out on placement, in at the deep end with five weeks of winter in Accident & Emergency. I remember my first shift seeing a child hunched on the bed of the Resus bay in the famed “tripod position” we had been taught about – pale, fighting for every breath. I remember my mentor telling me to put on gloves, and quietly suggesting this didn’t look good – at that moment I was terrified and had no idea how on Earth I had ended up here so quickly. Within a couple of weeks, I was fitting slings, triaging patients, assisting in resus and thriving from the variety and pace of every shift. My confidence ballooned! I went on to a Special Needs School – working in Early Years with children with physical and sensory disabilities. I learnt Makaton, read books, sang songs and treasured every single moment.

I spent time in University developing my Anatomy & Physiology, exploring Critical Care through my Elective module and learning about both Acute and Long-Term Care.

I went on to further placements in a Private Outpatients supporting Consultants – specialists in their respective fields across London and out on a busy surgical ward – focused mostly on trauma/orthopaedics. I’d gone from so afraid I could barely find it in myself to put on my gloves to managing three/four patients with minimal supervision and really beginning to feel like a Nurse.

I saw out the year on my Elective Placement in the Peak District where I worked on multi-speciality Paediatric Theatres whilst enjoying my best outdoor life on the side! I saw my first surgery, confidently recovered and returned my own patients and even got the chance to escape over obstetric side to see my first caesarean deliveries!


Third year kicked off with a placement on a Gastroenterology Ward and most recently, four weeks on Neonatal Intensive Care.

I’ve cared from babies from their very first breath in theatres, to a seventeen-year-old whose own stunts resulted in two broken legs and a lot of surgery. From the homes to the hospitals, from the richest private patients to families barely getting by, from the critically ill intubated child to the pre-schooler you’re chasing on the ward scooter…every day is astoundingly different.

All this coming from the girl who runs up the hunger of a table of friends in Pizza Express for 20 minutes only to order the same pizza she ordered on the last five visits – suddenly able to make a huge life decision that will change her forever in a matter of days!


But City made it so easy! That first friendly chat with the Law student on the Clearing phone line near singing about her love for the University. The naturally entertaining lecturer at interview who was so very down to Earth and passionate about his career. The Student Ambassador on interview day who keenly answered all my questions and spoke with such energy about the course. I felt so at home here, and that was at a rather daunting, life-changing interview. So naturally over the last two years I’ve practically become a part of the furniture! Always looking for new and exciting activities to be involved with – including this blog!

I have an exciting year ahead – with dissertation, a leadership module, clinical skills and of course that all important final 13-week management placement and I’m inviting you on my journey, all the way to NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council) registration.


Maybe you’re reading this because you too want to become a Registered Children’s Nurse? 

Thinking back to my first steps I’ve compiled my top five tips to help you get started with the application process and that all important Personal Statement!

1) WHY do you want to be a Children’s Nurse? You can eat the 6 C’s for dinner and recite the NMC Code by heart but it makes no difference if your hearts not in it! Take the time to map out everything that inspires you about Children’s Nursing and don’t be afraid to stray into your undying love for research if that’s what drives you. Nursing is an ever diversifying profession and it takes all sorts. What appeals to one could be another Nurse’s worst nightmare. Be honest about your drive – because you will speak more passionately about it.

2) A “Child” is anyone under the age of 18. This course is not all about cute babies and Peppa Pig appreciation! Our patients range from the tiniest premature babies to the largest 6ft 3 teenager and we spend a great proportion of our time working not only with the patients themselves but their families! I feel Child Branch are therefore pushed to be the greatest of communicators. At Application and Interview stage, it’s no secret – they are looking for prospective students who appreciate the diversity of the branch!

3) Sell your skills. Nowadays, it is phenomenally hard to arrange clinical experience prior to your application – and Universities increasingly understand this. Whilst you may not require specific clinical experience to undertake the course – experience certainly helps. Where your experiences are not clinical they can still be valued! Use your Personal Statement to sell your transferable skills that might be useful to Nursing. Have you for example worked in a team? Negotiated with an unhappy stranger? Taken the lead in a challenging situation? It’s all about selling these examples and showing you understand how these are applicable to Nursing.

4) Don’t spend your life savings (or your summer holiday) on textbooks! It’s all very tempting when you are very excited about commencing the course to spend £100 and four weeks of your summer holiday pouring through five variations of “Children’s Nursing” the textbook. Stop! Nursing is quite an intense and full time course – take the summer to unwind, relax and be ready to throw all your energy at the course in September. Not only that – City Library is exceptional! I have purchased just one book so far on my degree programme as our essential and recommended texts are all readily available to borrow from our library and even better – many are available as e-books to explore from the comfort of your own bed without even visiting the campus. Added to this we often benefit from lecturer distributed discount codes and student prices where we do choose to purchase our own copies. So save your money and enjoy your summer break!

5) Interview secret – it’s not all in the answer! Nursing interviews are lengthy and most often group based for a reason. You can give the most textbook perfect answers but it won’t necessarily mark you out as the best candidate. They’re also looking at your group interaction – how you work with others in the interview and even how much you engage and show interest throughout the day. If you are unsuccessful at a University interview – always seek feedback where possible as this can help inform and support your performance at any further interviews.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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