Advice and development

Stay fit to make the grade

Nicola Davies on ways nursing students can keep mentally healthy to ensure their demanding course is less stressful

Nicola Davies on ways nursing students can keep mentally healthy to ensure their demanding course is less stressful

Nurse training can be notoriously difficult, and can take its toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. The demands of nurse training can also put stress on your personal relationships and social life.

No one understands the pressures of a nurse’s life better than another nurse, making peer relationships invaluable. Peers can be a source of much-needed support, whether this is educational, mental or emotional.

Peer-supported courses and programmes support new, current and former students now working as nurses in clinical practice. Peers can help each other in a number of ways, such as engaging in mentor programmes, support groups, one-to-one tutoring and study groups.

Peer support is critical to ensuring success in such a demanding training programme. Here are a few tips for building strong peer groups at the start of your training, which will endure throughout your working life.

Build a mentor programme

A fear of the future, and not knowing what to expect, can be daunting for anyone, especially when starting down a new career path. A mentor programme matches senior nursing students with new students, on a one-to-one basis, ensuring that any new student has at least one person they can turn to with their queries. Mentors can also help mentees by offering insight on classes and practical knowledge, and providing moral support.

Use social media to your advantage

Building a page exclusively for your peer group on a social media site such as Facebook can have all kinds of benefits. Not only does it bring current students together, it keeps the alumni in the loop and connects students with those already working in the field.

You can also use social media to promote best practice and new health research, highlight student events, advertise jobs, and host peer-to-peer forums on health policy, practice ethics and other related subjects.































































































































































































































































































































































Tutor a peer
































Numerous studies have shown that the best way to learn a subject is through peer tutoring, which involves teaching others a subject you are good at. This can include core curriculum subjects, practice coaching or other relevant nursing topics.
































































































































































































































































Both ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ benefit from peer tutoring; any material the teacher uses is positively reinforced for them, and is understood by the student.
































































































































































































































































Studies have also shown that both teacher and student receive better practice and exam results as a result of peer tutoring, which can also lead to decreased anxiety and increased confidence among students.































































































































































































































Peer-led support groups
































Nurse training can impact on both your social life and your mental health.
































































































































Often, it is only others in the same situation who can empathise with what you face on a daily basis, so building peer-led support groups who can support and motivate each other can be of great benefit to students. These groups can also help decrease anxiety, and assist with the smooth transition from one stage of training to the next.






























































































Nicola Davies is a health psychology consultant
































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