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!

5 thoughts on “Top Tips To Surviving Second Year Nursing

  1. Your blog is so helpful! I am considering starting a nursing degree. I am worried about working alongside studying, especially when I am on placement. Do you have any tips for this? As I will not immediately be able to do bank hours until I have been on the course for a while. Thank you


    1. Thank you Sydney! That’s lovely of you.
      You can do bank hours at any time through the NHS, just take a look at the job site. If you want to do bank shifts alongside your trust that you will be doing placement in they do a ‘fast track application’ (this is what they do with our trust). Where you fill out a form and can then start working bank shifts. This is after you’ve completed your first placement.
      Some people do extra shifts in a completely different area to nursing. So that they aren’t over doing it. Bar, waitressing etc and that works for them 🙂
      I’m lucky as I work my bank shifts in sexual health where I was working full time as a HCA before. And it’s not a hectic as the wards.
      But just use your time wisely, plan your days off to split it up between revising, doing assignments and self care! 🙂
      I usually work all my shifts when I’m at uni and on my annual leave. I try and avoid any bank shifts whilst out on placement. And legally you can only work 48 hours per week which includes placement and bank shifts combined. Unless you have signed a separate contact to say you’ll work more than 48hours (not 100% sure where you even get that from haha).
      But that’s what I tend to do and I cope fine 🙂 I manage to pay my rent and bills etc and have time for extra curricular activities. When on placement – if you’re on a ward you will get 4 days off mainly. So use those 4 days to do maybe 1 bank shift (if you want that), 1 day of revision 1 day of assignment writing and 1 day off maybe? Or have 2 days off and combine revision and assignments in one day. Depends how you work and how you are and what works for you. Also with university, sometimes you’re not in every day. So you’ll get 4 days off some weeks as well.
      But you will discover this when you start nursing. But it’s not as bad as it seems honestly! But I do have to add, I don’t have children, and I know that juggling children with it all is going to be far tougher for students BUT quite a lot of people in my group have children and they are doing amazing 💙 anything is possible. X


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s