Advice and development

Tips for placement success

Placements are an inevitable part of a nursing degree which provide a platform for on-the-job learning and development, greatly enhancing a student nurse’s understanding of their career choice.

Placements are an inevitable part of a nursing degree which provide a platform for on-the-job learning and development, greatly enhancing a student nurse’s understanding of their career choice.

However, many students struggle to get real value from them because they are exhausted from their workload and travelling long distances to get to their placement.

A recent #NurChat, a fortnightly Twitter chat for nurses and other healthcare staff, operated by Newcross Healthcare Solutions, discussed tips students must adhere to for a successful placement.

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

The first day on placement can be daunting so the best way to prepare yourself is to make contact and spend half an hour introducing yourself to your mentor.

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 Nursing and Midwifery Council website.

Create learning objectives for each placement – try to focus on one aspect per shift

By researching and reading into your placement area you will know what to expect and the specifics required. Creating learning objectives will make you more focused. Don’t forget that every opportunity, negative or positive, is an opportunity to learn.

Spend time getting to know your patients and other professionals

Sometimes it is difficult to see things from another person’s perspective, but by taking the time to speak to your patients and professional colleagues you will discover invaluable knowledge and learn about their experiences, worries and cares. You’ll also improve your listening skills – essential for your nursing career.

Be proactive and always ask questions

Be honest with yourself and your mentor when you don’t know something, the only way you will learn is by asking. There is no such thing as a silly question.

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. Keep an A-Z log so you can easily look them up and refresh your memory.

Be willing and flexible with shifts to get a good idea about 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 will give you a taster for what your shifts may be like as a registered nurse.

Eat cake!

It’s important that as a nursing student 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.

Compiled from contributors to the #NurChat twitter chat

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