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Student Story: An Interview with Chris O'Dwyer, UCD General Nursing (2/2)

Monday, 20 May, 2024

Chris O'Dwyer General Nursing Student

“Thinking can take an awfully long time”

In part two of our interview with second-year General Nursing student Chris O’Dwyer, they talk about a typical day as a student nurse and also give some useful insight for anyone considering starting studies as a mature learner…

What does a typical day involve for you at the moment?

During the academic block, I’ll arrive to campus at 8AM to review lecture notes, set myself up for the day and get myself grounded. Lectures normally start at 9AM and depending on the day could run until 4PM however sometimes they can finish earlier. This gives me the opportunity to sort my notes, complete an assignment or just grab an hour or two in the library.

During clinical placement start times vary but if I am in the hospital I try to get in early so I can fuel up for the day, update my nursing documents, and identify what learning outcomes I need to achieve. When I get up to the ward I find out which nurse I will be working with, get our patient handover, and then I go out on the floor and check in with the patients. I normally do a round of observations, complete a few patient charts, report back to the nurse that I am being supervised by and then we complete a medication round. I also get the opportunity to work alongside the HCA’s (healthcare assistants) to complete some of the basic care needs. Depending on the setting there could be meetings with the multidisciplinary team in the early afternoon. This is where the nurses observations come in handy as we spend so much time with the patients that we notice every improvement or slight deterioration.

Is there anything that surprised you about the general nursing course?

How enjoyable it can be. I was expecting it to be very heavy academically - don’t get me wrong, it is very academic but the lecturers go to great lengths to make it enjoyable and understandable. If I ever left a lecture feeling unsure about the learning objectives I know that I could put up a question on the module forum, email the lecturer or even approach them in between lectures and ask for clarification.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of the programme, what would it be?

Trust the process - there is a reason, there is a rationale and a there is a point to what you are going to learn in the lectures. The point may not become apparent until you are on placement and you begin to see everything in context. It is a remarkable moment when the penny drops and the “long winded” lecture you sat through on a Monday morning at 9AM suddenly makes sense when you come across a patient with the condition or the medication discussed in the lecture.

What are your plans when you graduate?

Jeepers! The answer to that question changes so often. I have the rough framework of a plan but it is all dependant on what area of nursing I get drawn to. That is the beauty of the general nursing programme, the opportunities are endless both clinically and academically. Right now, as I write this after a day of placement I feel drawn to medicine of the older person, specifically to Dementia and Parkinson’s. However, as I progress through my specialist placements this could change.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting studies?

Thinking can take an awfully long time. I thought about doing nursing for years but there comes a time when you need to stop just thinking and start doing. If, like me, you are coming from another career, or returning to education or are a mature student, just apply. Take the leap, take the risk, walk down the path a little bit, see if the academic side of things clicks with you, see if the clinical work is enjoyable. If not, well at least you tried - you acted rather than just sitting on the fence asking a load of “what if” questions. If on the other hand you connected academically and clinically you won’t regret it. Yes, nursing in Ireland is not perfect, there are so many things that need to change but you can be part of that change, get involved and stuck in, pioneer, inspire, innovate – Ad Astra!

If you want to join the next wave of general nurses, or if you just want to find out more, (opens in a new window)contact us and our expert Admissions team would be happy to advise.

Attend one of our upcoming (opens in a new window)Open Days OR call us on +353 1 716 6488

Contact the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems

Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4
T: +353 1 716 6488 | Location Map(opens in a new window)