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Moving from nurse to lecturer is a big leap

Overwhelmed in the early days of a new job, Sam Humphrey realises it’s okay to feel useless at first

Overwhelmed in the early days of a new job, Sam Humphrey realises it’s okay to feel useless at first

Picture of Sam Humphrey, who is a lecturer in learning disability nursing

I now know the quickest way to my office and the first names of at least half the people who work along the same corridor as me. I am just coming to the end of my third week as a new lecturer in learning disability nursing.

Even before I qualified as a learning disability nurse, I was passionate about my own learning and took every opportunity to gain knowledge from others. Later, I was fortunate in my practice to be able to share my own knowledge, which led me to my current role.

But at the moment it feels different from what I imagined. My fellow lecturers are being incredibly kind and supportive, almost too much so, which makes me feel useless. I don’t know the university, the curriculum or the students, and I definitely don’t know the language of higher education, which seems more complicated than Klingon. It reminds me of being a student on the first day of a placement.

‘Share effective practice and learn from others’

My colleagues tell me it is okay to be ‘a bit useless’ at the beginning, and I am starting to believe them. They remind me I am not here to be an academic specialist from day one. They can teach me all I need to know about that in the months and years to come.

I am here because I am a learning disability nurse, and I have experiences and knowledge to share.

In my times of ‘being useless’ I read up on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) standards for nurse education. I realise that I am carrying out perfectly one of the requirements for nursing educators: ‘Share effective practice and learn from others.’

My practice experiences are all I have to share at present, and I am learning new things every day. So maybe useless is exactly what I should be right now.


Sam Humphrey is a lecturer in learning disability nursing at De Montfort University in Leicester

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Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education (NMC)

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