Advice and development

Make the most of every placement – even if it’s not your top choice

Placements may not always be in your preferred specialty or department, but every one will help you become a better nurse, says third-year student Ian Griffiths

Placements may not always be in your preferred specialty or department, but every one will help you become a better nurse, says third-year student Ian Griffiths


Picture: iStock

As I begin the final part of my journey as a nursing student, I find myself looking back on two years of training and placements, sometimes wondering how I’ve managed to get this far. 

I’ve absorbed so much information, but I still worry if I’m learning enough, experiencing enough and whether I’ve made full use of all the opportunities that have been presented to me. 

Opened doors

It has been great to hear about my fellow students’ placements, the things they have seen and done. Some have been in nursing specialties I may not get the chance to experience as a student, which is why it is good to share our stories. 

But this can also make you think that other students are seeing more, doing more and learning more than you, which is why personal reflection is so important.

Reflecting on your experiences is vital in helping you understand how far you have come, especially when you are trying to digest every situation, every patient, every time you did something well, and those where you would do things differently. 

‘If you’re feeling bewildered or overwhelmed, don’t worry, it’s normal’

My university and its partner NHS trust have offered me a wealth of possibilities in my placements, sometimes in areas I was unsure of or departments I didn’t think would interest me. 

This has opened doors to career options I may not have considered previously, helping me get closer to what it is I’d like to do and the types of patients I want to work with once qualified.

I have realised that there is no need to be anxious about where or in what specialty a placement is – it is all great experience that is helping me to build up my skill set and advance my clinical and organisational skills. 

It is all helping me to become the nurse I know I can be.  

Lean on others

To first-year students who are unsure about how to make the most of their time in clinical practice, I would say 'be yourself'. Be inquisitive, be proactive, always put your patients first, and if you’re not sure how to do these things, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Reach out to your mentors, link lecturers and personal tutors – they have all been there, just like you. And if you’re feeling bewildered or overwhelmed, don’t worry, it’s normal and it happens to us all. Remember that you are there to learn. 

I'm now at the stage of training where I get to nominate my preferred placements, and am hoping for a mixed bag of palliative, cardiac and intensive care.

But I won't be disheartened and downbeat if I don’t get them, because I understand that it is my overall experience that will produce the nurse I will become. It truly is about the whole journey, not just the destinations along the way. 


  Ian Griffiths is a third-year adult nursing student at Buckinghamshire New University 
 

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