BCU lecturer writes student nurse ‘survival guide’ to inspire next generation


Student nurses need more help understanding medical jargon and how to treat LGBTQ+ patients, according to a nursing lecturer at Birmingham City University (BCU).

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Birmingham City University

Claire Carmichael decided to create a ‘student nurse survival guide’ to support and inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals, following her own experiences as a student, practice nurse and now lecturer. 

“I wanted to write the book in layman's terms, so students can understand it,” she said. “There are so many medical books with jargon that you just don't understand sometimes. I wanted to give them something simple and easy to read. 

“I also want to share my own personal stories to encourage people into nursing. Some people are put off studying for a degree because they don’t think they are smart enough.” 

How To Make It As A Student Nurse will supply a wealth of advice, including information about applying to university, revising effectively, completing assignments, seeking out the right placement, making the transition from student to employee, and caring for LGBTQ+ patients.  

“As a general practice nurse, I had my first transgender patient and realised I had zero training or education in this area,” said Carmichael. 

"There was nothing out there for healthcare staff, so I spent two years researching, finding guidelines and policies, and speaking to transgender people to get more understanding. The more I searched, the more my eyes were opened to discrimination and inequality for trans people.”   

Carmichael began writing the book in 2018, in the second year of her BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing degree at BCU. She graduated with a first-class honours in 2020. 

“I had written 5,000 words down with some ideas and then unfortunately life took over and it got left for a couple of years,” said Carmichael. “I picked it back up and started it again as a newly qualified nurse in 2020 when I approached a publisher. 

“I loved writing this book. However, I am glad they have editors who spell check everything. I’ve recently been diagnosed with dyslexia and I’ve struggled with wording, terminology, spelling and grammar. I didn't realise how bad it was until they sent the book back with a whole load of edits.” 

With a background in sexual health, transgender healthcare and elderly care, Carmichael has a wealth of experience and advice for students. She also teamed up with Ann-Marie Dodson, an experienced nursing lecturer at BCU, to ensure the book was as comprehensive as possible. 

“I met Ann as a student nurse,” said Carmichael. “She has so much experience, so many stories and wonderful insight into nursing. I asked her to help me with the critical analysis and assignment writing section for the book as she was so used to marking assignments.” 

Dodson is very complimentary about Carmichael, too, revealing that her co-author has star billing in the nursing profession thanks to her many vlogs, blogs and posts across social media. 

“She’s something of a celebrity,” said Dodson, who has already provided sections in the book about speed reading and note taking. “She is very passionate about helping others.” 

There are a number of real-life case studies in the book. 

“I wanted to help the students understand patients better,” said Carmichael.

“How do we impact our patients; how do we do our best for groups of different patients such as the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities? I can't do my job as a nurse without knowing my patient’s perspective.” 

Carmichael is already helping the next generation of nurses in her lecturing role with the School of Nursing and Midwifery at BCU, her alma mater. 

“My time as a student nurse at BCU was amazing,” she said. “Those three years were the best of my career. I had a lot of fun and I was given so many opportunities. That’s why I wanted to come back.” 

How To Make It As A Student Nurse is published by Elsevier on 22 June, 2023. 

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