Clinical placements

Don’t judge a clinical placement until you’ve experienced it

Nursing student Lucy Fearon was disappointed when she found out her first clinical placement would be in a nursing home. But after learning a lot about fundamental care and building up relationships with patients, she realised the importance of keeping an open mind

Nursing student Lucy Fearon was disappointed when she found out her first clinical placement would be in a nursing home. But after learning a lot about fundamental care and building up relationships with patients, she realised the importance of keeping an open mind


Picture: Alamy

As a first-year nursing student I had been looking forward to my first clinical placement since the moment I was offered a place at university. I thought at length about where I might get placed, and the wonderful opportunities this would offer.

Everyone in my cohort was excited when our first listings were posted. The class was divided into hubs of medical, surgical and community, and I was ecstatic to discover my first placement would be in the community.

There had been a lot of talk about the opportunities involved with district nurses, health visitors and practice nurses in GP surgeries, but as I scrolled through the list my heart sank when I saw I’d been placed in a nursing home.

How wrong I was

I had expectations of what my community placement would entail, and this was certainly not it. I’m ashamed to say I considered my placement boring compared with the rest of my cohort and found myself feeling envious of the other students.

A friend who had recently qualified as a nurse encouraged me to keep an open mind, however, and focus on the experiences I could gain from the placement rather than what I thought I would be missing out on. I knew she was right, but I still felt as though I’d drawn the short straw.

Oh, how wrong I was. On the first day of the placement, I shadowed the healthcare assistants (HCAs) working in the home, assisting clients with their day-to-day care needs and supporting maintenance of hygiene, fluid balance and nutrition.

This gave me the opportunity to spend time with each client, learning more about their needs and getting to know them as individuals. I also benefited from the knowledge and experience of the HCAs and had a new-found appreciation for the fundamental role they play in the provision of care.

Focus on opportunities

In contrast with many other community services, which can see a vast number of patients and do not always allow for multiple experiences with one individual, the nursing home environment afforded me crucial time to build up a friendly relationship with my clients.

As time progressed, I learned more and more about the people I was caring for, and by the end of the placement I had enjoyed it so much that I was disappointed to be leaving.

So, what did this experience teach me? The importance of keeping an open mind for a start, and remembering to focus on the merits and opportunities of a placement rather than dwelling on what I felt I might be missing out on.

I also learned that experiences are exactly what you make them, and the more effort you put into learning, the more you will get out of your placement. I will approach my next experience with an open mind and a positive outlook, embracing each and every opportunity.


Lucy Fearon is a first-year adult nursing student at the University of Chester 

 

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs