Feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of your first placement? Third year student, Iain Walker, offers his tips for nurturing a good relationship with your placement mentor.
Meeting your mentor for the first time can be a very daunting experience, hopefully these 5 tips will put you on the path to success and let you bond and impress your mentor.
- Be Punctual. It’s not cool to be fashionably late to placement, try to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early before your shift to allow time to get changed into uniform and to prepare for the handover. Your mentor will think this is very professional and respect you making the effort.
- Ask questions. Your mentor is your living Google; ask if you don’t know, they will respect you more. Don’t pretend you know something if you don’t, you won’t be a laughing stock, you’ll just come across as someone who wants to learn. No mentor wants a student who does not talk.
- Be pro active. Offer your skills, don’t wait to be asked to do things. Every day ask what’s expected of you on shift. I always carry a little pocket book on shift with me, and I jot down anything I want to read up on or that I’m asked to do. This is also good for building on your time management skills.
- Show interest. My current mentor said there is nothing worse than a student that looks bored while on placement. Even if you are somewhere you may think sounds boring, there will always be something interesting for you to experience. You could ask to go with patients to X-ray or MRI and your mentor should accommodate this. Your mentor will respect you more if you go into the placement with goals and interests. Do some research on the place that you’re going, and explain on your fist day what you’re most interested in. If a patient comes to your ward for example with a head injury, and you ask to go to their MRI and X-ray, this will not only aid your learning experience but your mentor will be impressed with your level of interest and enthusiasm.
- Say thankyou. Remember, your mentor is only human, she/he was in your shoes once. Make sure you thank them for the experience they have given you. Remember, three years is not a long time, they could be interviewing you for a post in soon, so be nice.
- Get to know your patients. You are not staff on the ward and you should have the time to introduce yourself to the patients and make a good impression. Your mentor will think highly of you if you are able to build a good working relationship with those around you.
Iain Walker is a third year student learning disability nurse studying at Glasgow Caledonian University.