18 February 2016

8 tips for a successful student nurse placement

Exhausted and nurses seems to be two words that have become closely aligned, and for student nurses, it’s no different. From placements far from home to irregular placement shift patterns, how do you strike the perfect balance?

Placements are an inevitable part of a nursing degree, they provide a platform for on-the-job learning and development, greatly enhancing a student nurses understanding of their career choice. However, many students struggle to get real value from all of their placements, simply due to being too tired.

A recent #NurChat discussed some tips that students should adhere to in order to have a successful placement:

  1. Plan a pre-placement visit to settle nerves and help plan your journey

 The first day on placement can be daunting, what should you expect? The best way to find out is to make contact and take the time out to spend half an hour introducing yourself to your mentor.

  1. Create learning objectives for each placement – try to focus on one thing per shift

 By researching and reading into your placement area you’ll know what to expect and the specifics of your placement area and by creating learning objectives for your placement, you will be more focused. Don’t forget that every opportunity is an opportunity to learn, be it negative or positive.

  1. Spend time with your patients and other professionals

 Sometimes it’s difficult to see things from another persons’ perspective, but by taking the time to speak to your patients and other professionals, such as HCAs or OTs you will find out invaluable knowledge and learn about other experiences, worries and cares that they have. You’ll also improve your listening skills which is essential for your nursing career.

  1. Be proactive and always ask questions – no matter how silly you think it is

 Be honest with yourself and your mentor when you don’t know something, the only way you will continue to learn is by asking questions, there is no such thing as a silly question, and chances are, someone else was thinking the same thing!

  1. Log abbreviations in a dedicated notebook for easy reference and learning

Understanding and getting to grips with abbreviations from different departments can be confusing and hard to remember. Try keeping an A-Z log using an address book so you can easily look them up and refresh your memory.

  1. Be willing and flexible with shifts to get a realistic idea of the job

 Working with a mentor means working alongside their shift pattern, which can often mean working nights and weekends. Although not ideal, working unsociable hours during placement will give you a taster for what your shifts may be like as a registered nurse.

  1. Keep revalidation in mind and start as you mean to go on

 Revalidation is on the lips of every nurse and as a student, you are in the perfect position to bring your learning to fruition when you graduate. The revalidation process is an extension of what you do now, so remember to reflect and write about your experiences as soon as possible, start keeping a portfolio and stay up-to-date with the NMC website.

  1. Eat cake

It’s important that as a student nurse you take time out to relax, reflect and clear your head of your studies. You need to look after your wellbeing and mental health, and striking a work, life balance can be challenging as a student nurse. So sit down, unwind and eat some cake.

To read the full transcript from Tuesday’s chat click here

#NurChat will return on 2nd March at 8pm with a focus on Domestic abuse, FGM and how to support patients.