Student nurse Ebony Kunze on the importance of student nurses providing fundamental care for patients.
I am a second year student and throughout my training I have never had a problem with providing fundamental care to the patients that I am looking after. I feel that if without providing fundamental care then I would not be providing a duty of care that the patient deserves.
The term “extra pair of hands” I have heard my fellow students use many of times, and I have experienced it myself when completing my first placement at the beginning of my training. The ward was short staffed but I did not complain when I was asked to help a patient with their personal hygiene needs, I just carried on with what I had to do ensuring that the patient received all the care and help that they needed. Once the fundamental care had been given to the patients, I would then look out for learning opportunities and took them on. I feel that many students do not see fundamental care as learning, which is why many people, can see them as “too posh to wash”. But without learning the fundamental care first then what kind of nurse would you be without it.
When I worked as a HCA I also worked with student nurses who were on placement. On one shift I was providing fundamental care to a patient and asked the student if they would help, the response I got was “Is ok I will just watch”. At the time I was a little shocked and the thought ran through my mind of why that person was training to be a nurse if they did not want to get stuck in with providing fundamental nursing care.
Along with feeling like an extra pair of hands is the supernumerary status that students have when they are on placement. When I am on placement I have never thought of myself as supernumerary purely because I forget that I have that status, but too many students use it to their advantage stating that they cannot do something as they are supernumerary or that they are only there to observe what is being done, in my experience how can you learn something if you do not do it yourself? The RCN defined supernumerary status as “students being additional to the workforce and establishment figures”. O’Dowd (2005) says that students are supernumerary during their course, and the experience that they gain on placement should be determined by educational need. He goes on to say that students are not observers because they have to take part in clinical activities under direct or indirect supervision to develop the skills required to become a nurse. From this it is clear that without doing the tasks you are not going to learn the nursing skill.
In my opinion there is nothing better than helping patients with fundamental care, it gives nurses opportunities to spend time talking to patients, allowing patients to express and concerns, worries, anxieties that they have in which the nurse can address and reassure the patient. As well as allowing assessments to be made of skin integrity, observing for pressure sores, helping to rehabilitate the patient, and give the patient confidence to have a go at washing themselves. This can help the well being of the patient and make them feel like they are able to do tasks.
As students we have nursing proficiencies to complete which are split up into four domains of professional and ethical practice, care delivery, care management and personal and professional development. How do students expect to meet any of the proficiencies and domains if they will not provide fundamental care, they would not be delivering or managing care, and they would not be developing personally and professionally. How can they create a care plan for a patient if they do not assess the patients’ needs to begin with? Arguably not all proficiencies fall under fundamental care but it would be a good starting point. From experience when I was to begin my first placement I was very interested in doing the “drug round” but after doing one I felt that I would rather be assisting a patient with their breakfast, or helping them have a wash. I have learnt that I do need to do drug rounds to build up my skills in that area, but if I do the breakfast drugs I will then not do the lunchtime drugs so that I can hand out the patient’s meals and provide assistance to the patients that need it.
About the author
Ebony Kunze, second year student Nurse from Bournemouth University