Summer Edition 2019

Edition 5 — How to thrive as a student or graduate

Welcome to the Summer 2019 edition of the Nurse & Midwife Support newsletter.

Dedicated to supporting students and graduates and all those who support them, this edition has useful tips and information to assist you to thrive.

We also have contributions from a recent graduate midwife and a current student nurse, who share the excitement and the challenges of starting their careers in their own words.
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Supporting our nursing and midwifery graduates and students

By Mark Aitken, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Nurse & Midwife Support

Since the launch of Nurse & Midwife Support in March 2017 we have met nursing and midwifery students and graduates throughout Australia. They tell us that being a student or graduate is an exciting, challenging and often daunting time.

nursing and midwifery students and graduates

I was a student nurse many years ago. I still remember this pivotal time in my career. I was full of anticipation and excitement about the future. I also remember feeling scared! The hospital I worked in was a new world full of discovery and new experiences. I sometimes felt overwhelmed. My seniors, mentors, fellow students and educators nurtured my learning and supported me to succeed. Some of those people became lifelong friends. We have continued to support each other by listening and being there through good and tough times.

Nurse  & Midwife Support is available to support all nursing and midwifery students and graduates during this challenging time in their lives. The national 24/7 support service provided via a nurse and midwife lead phone service — 1800 667 877 and online.

We have great resources to support the success of students and graduates. The service is confidential, anonymous and free. Call us anytime about any issue you need support for.

Please assist us to spread the word to your network so that every student, graduate and those who support them know about Nurse & Midwife Support.

Best wishes and enjoy this incredible journey.

Look after yourself and each other — your health matters.

Mark Aitken RN

Advice from a recent graduate midwife

By Celeste, Midwife and Nurse & Midwife Support Clinician

Starting your nursing and midwifery career can be exciting, but it can be overwhelming to adjust to the challenges as well. Recent graduate and Nurse & Midwife Support clinician Celeste provides some strategies that helped her thrive.

decorative image of woman looking out at a beautiful landscape

My time as a graduate midwife was a mixed bag of experiences and emotions.

It was rewarding, stimulating, challenging and inspiring. I loved the exciting opportunity of meeting a wide variety of people. The diversity of the experience was a big part of the joy.

I thoroughly enjoyed building on my communication skills and developing creative ways to connect and develop a rapport with women and their families. The difference I discovered I made to people’s lives was an experience I had not had in such a profound way before.

Alongside all the positives were challenges that were sometimes difficult to face. The workload came as a shock even though as a student I had a taste of what it would be like.

Juggling competing demands was tough, as was the intensive learning I had to take on. Late nights and early mornings, often over five days of work in a row made it challenging to fight off low energy and fatigue. I became critical of myself, which made learning even harder.

What did I do to support myself through this period of transition?

I had always had a keen interest and passion for health and wellbeing and knew it was imperative that I develop a good self-care plan during this time.

My tips for success include:

  • Healthy eating: cooking my own meals and planning so that I did not end up eating on the run. I Included a lot of vegetables and fruit and healthy fats and protein with each meal. I ensured that I ate three meals a day and avoided sugary processed foods. This helped keep my energy levels stable and my brain functioning optimally.
  • Exercise: I aimed to do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. This usually meant going for a brisk walk outside, yoga, or weight training at the gym. I always felt better if I incorporated exercise into my regime.
  • Sleep: I did my best to keep to a regular sleep schedule, aiming to go to bed at around the same time every night and trying to get 8 hours of sleep. I avoided looking at phones and other devices at least two hours before bed to reduce stimulation prior to sleep.
  • Social time: enjoying time with friends and family and making sure I stayed socially connected really made a huge difference. Time out having fun and letting my hair down kept a good work/life balance going.
  • Mindfulness/meditation: I meditated when I had time, even if it was just for 10–15 minutes. This assisted me to reset, feel more relaxed and less stressed.
  • Nature time: going for walks such as a bush walk or just getting outside and sitting in the sun was a huge stress buster for me. Nature is very rejuvenating, and it’s nice to be still and quiet when you are very busy in life.
  • Mentoring: I knew that finding a mentor who had been through what I had and had wisdom about the profession would be useful. My friend’s mother had been a midwife for over 20 years, so I regularly chatted with her to get support and help with what I was going through. This enabled me to keep things in perspective and not get too bogged down in the small stuff.

Embrace your graduate year. It may be a challenging experience but it will be rewarding. Your contribution and commitment will reward you. Be kind to yourself and seek support whenever you need it.

And remember, Nurse & Midwife Support is only a phone call: 1800 667 877 or click away:

An open letter from a student nurse

By Student Nurse C

A student nurse speaks candidly about the pressures of student placement and her admiration for her senior colleagues.

decorative image of student nurse on the job

Dear Nurses,

As student nurse, I want to take this opportunity to thank the nurturing, positive nurses who are excited to impart wisdom and teach. If that’s you, thank you: we love you like Kanye loves Kanye. You make our journey as students educational, motivating, and pleasurable. Thank you for seeing what we have to offer, and having faith in our abilities, even when we don’t.

Sometimes, it is scary to be us. We’re new and there is so much to learn. As student nurses, we want your approval. We try to work extra hard to show you that we are worthy of your respect. We want to prove ourselves and show off our new skills.

Sometimes, that means we panic. Suddenly, we are stumbling over our feet trying to make ourselves seem worthy of your attention. ‘I swear, I can put these sterile gloves on fine when you are not in the room, but now that you are watching me I have somehow managed to put one on inside-out and the other looks like a broken violin.’

What you need to know is that we idolise you.  We want to be you (in a completely non-threatening, non-Silence-of-the-Lambs type way).  We want to hear your story of how you started nursing and we want to soak up your all wisdom and knowledge like a sponge (cake).

Because to us, you are basically superheroes. You manage time like a pro. You know which meds to give and when, and what they are all for, while we’re still hiding in the stationery cupboard, madly Googling unfamiliar names. You advocate for your patient by standing up to a grumpy, tired Doctor who charted incorrectly. You do all of this while simultaneously organising the monthly karaoke catch up. You’re basically Beyoncé.

I guess what I am trying to say is: as students, we know we might slow you down a little. We might ask questions that seem silly. We may seem way too eager to give that patient a bed bath.  But we really appreciate you being there to help us on our nursing journey.  It’s a rocky path up the mountain. We’ll get there, but we couldn’t do it without you to hold our hand and guide us through the scary bits. 

One day, we want to be strong and sure enough to help you up your own mountain: side-by-side, working as a team. Thank goodness, we won’t be students forever. We can’t wait to be able to work with you in such a noble profession.

Yours sincerely,
Student Nurse C


Summer Podcast Series

Summer Podcast Series Cover

This summer, we’re posting four podcasts featuring inspiring guests who are contributing to the well-being of nurses, midwives and students. Episodes 1 and 2 are available now, with new episodes coming to you over the remaining weeks of summer.

  • Episode 1: Lucinda Jones-van Buuren of The Mindful Nurse
  • Episode 2: Marie Louise and Kerri Otto de Grancy of Evolve Yourself Institute
  • Episode 3: Kylie Ward, CEO of the Australian College of Nursing
  • Episode 4: Ann Kinnear, CEO of the Australian College of Midwives

You can listen to the podcast on our website, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.

Get in touch

If you need to talk, our service provides free and confidential support 24/7 to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you’d like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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