Pre-Placement Nerves – am I cut out for this?

It’s the evening before I start my first placement of first year.

I have been waiting for this for a long time. In fact, this is why you become a student nurse. We’re interested in the theory, and know it’s important, sure. But the practicality and reality of placement is what we’ve been waiting for. So we can do what we chose our course to do.

To nurse.

I have spent the day preparing.

My uniform is ironed, and hung up, ready for me to put on tomorrow morning and feel a bit uncomfortable in the way new clothing always feels, but proud of myself, and like a proper nurse.

My bag is packed. My lunch is prepared. My documentation is all ready. My hair is washed. My room is tidy. I feel prepared.

I also feel anxious. My heart is racing; my thoughts are spiralling; I’m sweaty. I have to force my leg to be still and not shake.

I know I don’t need to be anxious. I have visited the ward, so I know the car journey, where to park, how to get into the building, and the layout of the ward. I can visualise where I am going, which always helps me. I have met several members of the team, all of whom were very welcoming, kind and eager to help me. I met the patients, who I enjoyed chatting to.

All of this leans towards the suggestion that I do not have anything to worry about.

Yet still the thoughts are spiralling. Some ridiculous, some understandable.

What if I make someone a cup of tea and it is not the colour they like? What if I make a cup of coffee and it is too strong?

What if I forget everyone’s names?

What if I put sugar into a diabetic’s tea? 

What if I am in a situation where I need to use my personal safety alarm and it doesn’t work?

What if I am asked to calculate medication and I can’t do it?

And then just faintly, the whisper in my ear… ‘What if you are not cut out to be a nurse?’

I don’t have experience in healthcare, but I know lots of incredible nurses who have told me they didn’t before they did their degree. But what if I can’t do even the most simple of things?

It sounds ridiculous, but I watched one of Teepa Snow’s youtube videos on how to help somebody put on a coat, in a different way to how you may automatically do it. I had never considered how she taught to do it before, yet it was so simple, so easy, that while I felt immediately reassured that I could now help somebody put on a coat, I felt I should have thought of her way before.

Because of my autism, I sometimes don’t think of things which to some are really ‘simple’. This makes it difficult for me to know when this is what is happening, or when I am not expected to know yet. In this case, I am not expected to know most of the things, because that is what placement is for – to learn.

So I am reassuring myself that it is okay that I don’t know things. I will learn them. I am certainly very eager to learn, and that is what’s important.

I am also silencing the voice in my head which says I am not cut out to be a nurse.

I am sure that in the next eight weeks I will prove that voice wrong.

I am cut out to be a nurse, and I will try my hardest to be the best nurse I can be.

All my love,


Twitter: @ItsEmilyKaty

(Image belongs to British Nursing Association)

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