If you're thinking about transitioning from work life to uni life, I recommend taking the plunge. It might not always be easy, but in the wise words of Denzel Washington “ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.”
I still remember the apprehension I felt as I left a job I loved as a Healthcare Assistant to start university. I felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety about the unknown. Looking back, I believe it has been for the greater good as I can look forward to returning to a similar place of work but as a Registered Healthcare Professional.
The transition from work life to uni life was bumpy, but it came along with many opportunities to learn, improve and develop into an autonomous practitioner ready to register as a Healthcare Professional. I have listed a few hurdles I have faced along the way and advice I would give with the beauty of hindsight.
1. Identify your support network – Your support network can come in many shapes and sizes. It could include any or all of the following: partner, friend, family member, fellow students, personal tutor, groups or mentor. Each may have a slightly different role in supporting you but finding a mentor that brings your studies to life is priceless. A key support of mine has been a running friend who enjoys discussing my assignments which allows exploration of topics, identification of areas that need improving and consolidation of knowledge. I would recommend finding a friend or fellow peer to do this with as they will have a similar understanding of the topics. It was also an opportunity for friendly therapy as I could share my concerns, fears and worries whilst also exercising as an added bonus.
2. Self-care – I started out very enthusiastic and dedicated. I spent almost all my energy and time entirely on the degree. I have now learned that there is a balance which needs to be found for the safety of personal wellbeing. On reflection, I would have prioritised and set regular times for cooking healthy meals and exercise from the start of studies, as the benefits have been huge.
3. Social and family life – Unlike work life, uni life doesn’t have a start and finish time, which is great as it makes your life more flexible. However, I made the mistake of avoiding most social and family activities to prioritise studies which was detrimental to wellbeing. Although at times it didn’t feel like it, on reflection there truly is time for those all important social activities and catch ups with friends and family. I would advise setting aside time for this between studies.
To ensure you can find the best balance between workload and social life it is important to be organised. The following points are a few methods I used to become more organised.
1. Using note taking software – Note-taking has come a long way since I was at school. I now record lectures on a software package where I can keep slides, associated audio and notes all in one place. This makes it easier to consolidate knowledge after lectures and was useful for revision.
The use of a good quality student planner and wall calendar - The wall chart allows deadlines to be visualised in one place making prioritising and planning easier. I am also a massive fan of to-do lists which I make daily and monthly.
Overall, the highs have far outweighed the lows. Good prioritisation and organisation skills have allowed for participation in extra activities and experiences. These include the student leadership program, being a course representative, attending conferences and non-NHS placements to name a few, which have been phenomenal.