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From the lecturer's mouth: what am I looking for in new student nurses?

Adult nursing lecturer, Kevin Hambridge, lets us know what he’s looking for in new recruits to his nursing programme

With the start of the new academic year almost upon us, my mind turns to the new recruits to our nursing programme and the key attributes we will be looking for in our new intake of student nurses.

  • Enthusiasm is a good attribute to have in order to show your keenness and interest in your chosen profession within the classroom and while out on clinical placement. Think about how hard you have worked, and the many sacrifices you have made, to get to this point.
  • A professional attitude is necessary. This is needed within university, a clinical skills simulation setting, your clinical placement and also within your personal life. It is important to uphold the values of the profession of nursing at all times.
  • Time managament skills are important to master as there will suddenly be many new demands upon your time, such as studying, reading, attending lectures, clinical practice placements and a busy social and family life. It is important to be disciplined  with your time in order to find a healthy work-life balance, as you prioritise the important aspects of your programme and your life. Before too long there will be deadlines for submitting assignments, and it is essential to be able to continually select the most important tasks which need to be completed. I think it’s commonly called ‘multi-tasking’.
  • The ability to reflect on your experiences in nursing is an important skill to develop. Using a model of reflection such as the Gibbs cycle will help you to discuss and analyse your experiences, in order to make some sense of it them and learn.
  • A willingness to communicate and learn how to communicate better is essential. It is paramount to have clear and effective communication within lectures, with university staff and within your clinical placement.
  • A nonjudgemental nature is vital as an important aspect of nursing is communicating effectively with patients and their families who may come from a more diverse background, social setting, culture and religion than yours. So it’s essential to have respect for other people’s opinions, ideas and beliefs, which may be very different from your own.
  • Empathy towards a client’s situation or problems will also enable you to be a patient’s advocate when necessary.
  • Tact and diplomacy are important, as you may be aiding a patient and their family at a very difficult time for them physically or emotionally. You will also have to communicate efficiently with nurses, and all the other allied health professionals, such as doctors, physiotherapists and dieticians within clinical practice when on placement. This may be quite daunting for some, but it is a very important to take yourself out of your comfort zone in order to develop the skills of confident, effective communication. It’s not all talking. It is also essential to listen. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “we have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Wise words in some circumstances you may find yourself.
  • Effective study technique is also important in order to make the most of your time spent reading, collating data, and using IT systems in order to complete assignments and revise for examinations. With a wealth of health-related information at your disposal, it is imperative that you use your time wisely to access information which will broaden your nursing and health knowledge. This information can be in the form of journal articles, books, websites or tweets.
  • Resilience. You will need to survive many challenges during your course. These might link to your academic life as well as your personal life. Students need to be able to deal with problems and issues relating to the pressure of deadlines, child-care issues, travelling to placement, working shifts (especially night shifts) and potential financial difficulties.
  • Knowing when and how to seek the necessary support is also paramount. This can be formal support or the support of your peers, friends and family.

Most of all, have fun, and enjoy the experience. These should be some of the happiest times of your life. Good luck.

Kevin Hambridge is a lecturer in adult nursing at Plymouth University. You can contact him @KevinHamPlymUni

Readers' comments (2)

  • George Kuchanny

    Wow! I pass with flying colours! Ahem... one fly in the ointment. Is being slightly retired and 65 a problem?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Eleven attributes, if you include the having fun. Does this mean Kevin is looking for up to eleven students each with at least one of these attributes or is he hoping to find all of them in one person - a very tall order it would seem! Or if he expects them all in each of his students would he be prepared to compromise and accept just one less in some and hope these could be developed throughout training?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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