Clinical placements

Finding courage to blow the whistle helped me develop my practice

During my second clinical placement in my first year of training I began to notice that things were not quite right.

During my second clinical placement in my first year of training I began to notice that things were not quite right.

After I had worked on the ward for a few weeks and built up relationships with the patients, they started to tell me they were unhappy with the care provided but did not know who to tell.

Having learned about whistleblowing and the importance of reporting poor care, I knew I had a duty to the patients to report it, but I did not know how.

I was only a first-year student, and some of the staff members had worked in the NHS for 20 years.

I did not want them to treat me differently if I said anything, so I spent a week or so watching to see whether I noticed anything myself. And I did. I started to see things that were not best practice and I knew I had to do something.

I looked back on lectures I had attended about safeguarding issues and reporting incidents, and found out the action I needed to take.

I reported the cases to my university safeguarding lead and wrote statements about what I had heard or seen.

Then I had meetings with the matron and sister to discuss what was to be done about the incidents I had reported. Eventually, staff members were disciplined and the incident reporting taken higher.

This was a difficult experience that greatly affected me. I found it hard to speak out because I did not want it to affect my placement. But once I found the courage to do it, I was pleased that I had done something to improve the care given to patients.

It was also my professional duty as a nurse to put the patients’ interests first and speak out if I thought they were at risk, as outlined in Nursing and Midwifery Council guidance on raising concerns.

This experience improved my nursing practice because it gave me the confidence to speak out if such things were ever to happen in the future.

I have learned how important it is to be the whistleblower; if no one is brave enough to do it, the consequences for patients can be serious.

It also improved my professionalism. I had never previously reported anything, so I had to ensure that I was doing it the right way and going down all the right paths.

These events affected the way I treat people, too. Because I have witnessed poor practice, I am now even more careful to ensure that I always treat everyone in the right way. I make sure I check that patients are satisfied with their care.

Many patients seem more comfortable confiding in students than staff, so I try to be there to help them if they are not happy, and show them the right way to report any concerns.

This placement experience was not a happy one for me, but it has helped me to develop personally. I have become more courageous and confident and am now able to communicate more easily with other staff members.

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