Clinical placements

Do not write off a placement before you’ve given it a chance

Never dismiss a placement or take it for granted. We all hear stories about the ones we would not want to do at any cost. I’ve been there.

Never dismiss a placement or take it for granted. We all hear stories about the ones we would not want to do at any cost. I’ve been there.

After completing a great placement on a cardiac ward I could not wait to start my next. To my horror I’d been placed with the health visitors for my community placement. I had heard the stories from older students about how boring it was and how all you got to do was sit and weigh babies.

Not for me. I wanted out, but the university refused. Which is how I came to be heading off for the first day of a six-week placement, ready to be bored stiff and for it to be a waste of time.

I went in for my first day to meet my mentor, dressed in my smartest clothes as I was told it would be ‘no uniform’. After orientation and my first meeting, we went off to see some babies. On the way, my mentor told me that we were going to help with a toddler who was not sleeping. You mean we are not just weighing babies?

This was not what I had prepared for; I was interested all of a sudden. Gone was the image of weighing endless mounds of infants as my eyes were opened to all that the team did. The six weeks went by rapidly. I was spending time with community nurse specialists, nursery nurses and health visitors.

Soon I was giving advice on food, eating, sleeping and behavioural issues, as well as carrying out health reviews and breastfeeding assessments. Mums would come to us for advice on everything from breast versus bottle to how to get dad involved. I looked in awe at these women who took everything in their stride.

Not only was I able to help, but I had a wide variety of opportunities opened up for me. I spent an enjoyable day with the community midwives, something I would never had thought possible being a student in adult nursing. I also visited child services where I was able to offer my medical knowledge in relation to cases they had. I spent two days working with the sexual health promotion team, going into a school to educate teenagers on contraception and the dangers of sexually transmitted infections.

The team also offered me invaluable training. Attending a perinatal mental health conference opened my eyes to things I was not aware of, such as how to recognise the signs of a mother in need.

I went from dreading the placement to enjoying myself immensely. I was even given the opportunity to run a training session for the team on birthmarks; presenting my own work to help educate those educating me. I gained so many experiences and have vowed to never turn my nose up again at another placement. You never know what you may learn. Oh, and I did weigh some babies.

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