Top Tips To Surviving Second Year Nursing

Hi all!

For those of you either just starting nursing or are in first year, this one could be for you. Before starting second year, I had heard a lot of negativity around it. Students said things like ‘Second year was the worst year of my life.’ Which initially made me a little bit nervous. So, if this is you right now, please don’t listen to those comments and just take second year as it comes. Firstly, I need to add, I have no children, I have no commitments outside of nursing, so the work load wasn’t too bad for me. Everyone is different – remember this when reading any tips and advice anywhere.

The one thing I will say here is, second year is a step up and the work load you will get is going up with it. It is a FULL-on year and if you’re the sort of person who leaves things until last minute, you might struggle.

Small solution – organise and prioritise that work load.

To be honest, all in all, I absolutely loved second year! The modules were so much more interesting and right up my street. I have fully embraced it all, even with the challenges I have had to face, second year has been my favourite year so far.

What modules did I have this year?

  • Nursing Practice 2 exam – Based around three case studies of; Cancer, acute abdomen blockage and multiple sclerosis.
  • Nursing Practice 3 exam – Based around three case studies of; diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), Sepsis and Ectopic pregnancy.
  • Professional Values and Evidence Based Practice – Poster presentation and 2000-word assignment based around a patient with dementia.
  • Nursing in Society – designing a leaflet on a mother and baby issue with a 1000-word rationale, a care plan and a 1500-word rationale.
  • Maths exam – Drug calculations

We had the majority of these all launched one after the other and the deadlines, one after the other. You may be faced with the same challenge, but the key is, to start the work load as they launch it.

Tips for second year:

Tip 1: Stay organised – start the work as it is launched to you.

Tip 2: Prioritise the world load – Which ever deadline is due in first, do that first.

Tip 3: Check out websites, books and other useful resources on how to critically analyse in academic work. You can always ask your library for advice. This is the main leap between level 4 and level 5 writing style.

The way I learnt this was to think about it as buying a new mobile and you don’t know which to decide? So, you’re weighing up the pros and cons of each one. The good, the bad and the ugly and then you’re coming to a conclusion of which mobile phone you’ll pick based on your research and needs.

Tip 4: If you are struggling always seek help, do not suffer in silence. There is all the help in the world for you but you can’t receive it if no one knows you’re struggling. Speak to someone at the university, your family, friends or head over to social media and put a post out there. Anything other than suffering in silence.


What about placements? How do they differ in second year?

In first year, it’s all about learning, observing, following the lead of your mentor. Being under direct supervision of your mentor and other nurses. Second year, it’s a small step away from them. It’s building on what you know from first year. Making decisions and using your own initiative but whilst being safe and checking in with your mentor still. Your mentor might even give you your own patients to look after but will still be observing you from afar. Please don’t let this terrify you! This is how you’re going to learn, by getting stuck in and doing it all. I’ve absolutely loved it! I love being able to put the theory to practice, make decisions and know I have improved the health outcomes for my patient. I may even have potentially saved a life! This is the greatest feeling in the world 💙

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions still and never be afraid to say, ‘I’m sorry I don’t know that.’ It’s better to be honest than risk patient or your own safety.

How about those second-year blues?

I definitely felt this for a couple of weeks towards the end of second year. There was a mixture of things all happening at once to make me feel the blues.

Firstly, my grades dropped a little from first year! With the level raising from 4 to 5 I had to raise my standards and I didn’t. I had missed extra points on the smallest of things and that really got to me.

Secondly, I was coming to realise I only had a year left after this one. It was making me feel sad thinking about leaving university behind.

And lastly, I had a bit of personal problems and I had to move house etc right in the middle of my placement. I ended up taking a couple of weeks out to get my head together and get back to it.

So, I had a lot of things all at once that was really getting to me. But after a good talking to, to myself and putting myself straight again, I was great! I reminded myself how long it’s taken me to get here now, how far I have come and what I have achieved. I wasn’t going to let any of these little things get me down!

Always remember, if you’re feeling the blues right now or in future, remember you’re amazing. Look back at your journey and how far you have come! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you. You got this!

If you ever need anything, my inbox is always open to anyone! And don’t forget to make the most of every opportunity 🙂 Keep going!


34 years old and finally achieving my dream of becoming a nurse.

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