NURSING STANDARD As I enter my third year as a mental health nursing student, I look back over the past two years with some astonishment that I have come this far. In many ways, they have been the best and the worst years of my life. I passed my A levels with unexpectedly high grades and was accepted into all the universities I applied for, but then failed to get into the branch of nursing that I originally wanted. I was offered the mental health nursing branch instead. My first placement on an adult male treatment and assessment ward was an eye-opener for an 18 year old. Facing patients who were full of anger and aggression, I learned how to duck someone trying to take a swing at me and another taking a shot with a Pot Noodle. Seeing eight healthcare staff restraining a man to administer an injection was unforgettable. But so too was the man who died while holding my hand, and my first attempt at resuscitation when a patient stopped breathing in front of me. This was an education I had not anticipated. The highlight of that first placement was a staff nurse telling me: ‘You are the most enthusiastic student nurse I have ever met. We set you obstacle after obstacle and you still work hard. Even on a night shift, you are still enthusiastic. You will go far.’ I knew from the outset that the theory learning would be difficult. I found that I learn better from practical experience but the book learning must be done and it will pay off. I passed my first year with 2:1 grades, which means I must maintain my standards this year.