As some of my new flatmates have just started their nursing journey, I have decided to dedicate this post to those in the same position and share some (hopefully) helpful tips on starting your first assignment!
The first assignment can be very daunting. Whether you are coming straight from school and still have the learning routine or have taken a gap out of education and are just getting back into things. My main piece of advice is to TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t go leaving it last minute to try and scrape a pass. You won’t end up learning that way and it won’t help with your stress levels!
Before you start writing your assignment, I would recommend making a plan first. I am always conscious when I write as sometimes I can go off topic and ramble on a bit (sorry!) Whether the plan is just bullet points in a notepad before typing it out, using headings before writing each part (remember to delete these prior to submission), creating a spider diagram, if you have created a good plan. You have a better chance of creating a brilliant piece of work!
When we got given our first piece of work, I had spent ages planning out what I was writing and how I was going to write it. I find that if you are doing an academic essay which involves an introduction, main body and conclusion, it can be quite overwhelming before you’ve even started. I often find introductions difficult, how can I write about what I am going to write about, when I’ve not written it yet?! I’ve found to solve this problem, I leave my introduction until the end, as I know exactly what I have written about!
Another tip of mine is to get yourself introduced to your universities referencing style as soon as possible. At DMU we use Harvard Referencing. It can be quite intimidating at first, but once you get yourself used to it, it becomes part of the assignment routine. In my first couple of weeks I printed out our referencing guides and even now I still refer to it! Our library also has referencing workshops so that if you need some extra help with it then they can help you. Referencing is so important as it can make you lose marks, also if you do not reference you are plagiarising!
When you get your assignment submission dates, write them everywhere! I write mine in my diary, calendar and on my phone diary. This way I always know what I have coming up and how long I have left. When we get our assignment given to us, I already try and think what I am going to do for it, where I am going to get my information from and what type of layout I am going to use.
Make yourself comfortable using journal articles! Gone are the days in school where you could get your information from google and Wikipedia (the horror!) Nursing is a university degree, and as the saying goes, you read for a degree. The information and research that you keep to up to date with needs to be peer reviewed, accurate and factual to be able to be used for assignment pieces. I am lucky that DMU has an extensive range of online journals that are brilliant and are easy to use and I am always able to find exactly what I am looking for.
The first assignment can be very scary, but just remember that every student nurse before you have been in the same position. Make the most of the facilities that your university has to offer. Don’t be scared to ask for help!