“Whoa, you’re doing the PGDip? I could have done it but I didn’t think I could have handled all that stress,” a lovely 2nd year undergraduate nurse said to me in passing (if you’re reading it C, HEY GURL HEY). I relayed this to my friends on the course. There was silence as we chewed thoughtfully.
“Well,” said S in a defeated tone, “she’s not wrong, love.”
What is a PGDip and why am I doing this? Well, circa 2015, when I was working as a healthcare assistance with an undergraduate degree under my belt, I abruptly decided that I was going to study nursing. For all wannabe nurses in the UK with undergraduate degrees tucked in the space between your bed and the wall in your parents’ house, you have two choices. The first choice is to do the undergraduate nursing course, a 3 year slog in which you learn how to be a student all over again in you first year and then get pushed into the deep end with a fluorescent pair of water wings and a basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology. The other choice is to do a Postgraduate Diploma which is… well..
I chose the PGDip (as it’s commonly known) for a couple of reasons, not least of which involved the nagging feeling that I should be a contributing member of society before my mother retires. I figured that my undergrad in Medical Genetics will help me stay afloat through the more biological things and everything else will require me to stock up on textbooks and empathy. I… wasn’t wrong.
I’m two weeks away from finishing my first year of this course and I. Am. Burnt. Out. I have no real clue what it means to be on vacation anymore seeing as 1st year was condensed into 4 months and 2nd year into 6, with assignments running concurrently with placements, theory classes and Christmas. I’ve had to work full time hours (37.5 in the UK) on very little pay, whereas I was accustomed to having a decent salary from being an HCA – not enough to buy a house or anything adult like that but I could try new cheeses on a weekly basis and take the bus without feeling guilty. I’ve had to rewire my whole way of thinking, from a science-y perspective to one that’s more holistic in nature (heads up: people are more than just a bunch of chromosomes and organs). My social life is nonexistent, my anecdotes involve more bodily fluids than anyone needs to know about, and I swear I comfort eat every day.
But you know what?
I love it.
I love that there’s a clear end in sight (August 2017, you and me got a date fam). I love that I can say to myself “just one more year” whenever I look at my negative bank balance, and that I can promise all my friends to just wait 13 more months and I’ll be 100% present and accounted for (providing I’m not working, of course). I love that I can continue onto a Masters right after or have a few years’ rest while working, and I’ll only have to do a couple of modules. Please refer to me as Master Nurse when this happens.
But most of all I love the course. No really, I do! I love placements, how varied they are and the kind of characters that walk in every day. Like I said, I love working with kids and they seem to like me (Lord knows why, it must be because I like hide-and-seek, Disney and video games). I like our professors, they’re quirky and fun and have some amazing stories to tell. And ok yeah I don’t like the assignments much, but I like getting to practice stuff on dummies instead of just shoving a tube down a nose and hoping for the best, and I like learning about different conditions and their treatments. So far everything’s going ok, maybe a bit premature to say that when I’ve got 2 more weeks left to the course, but hey-ho. I’m feeling optimistic. Bring on 2nd/3rd/final year!
Heads up: You should probably keep your kids in hiding circa August 2017. Just in case.