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'You will make mistakes, but don't take them to heart'

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Third year student, Kate, recalls how the mistakes she’s made on placement have helped her become a better nurse

Kate Griffiths-SNT

When I first started nursing I had so many mixed feelings: excitement, fear, nerves and feeling horrendously proud that I could give myself the title “student nurse”.

When people asked what I was studying and I replied “I’m training to be a nurse” I felt even more proud! I had no previous experience of nursing or healthcare, I actually studied law before hand but thats another story!

As a new student, I imagine you’re probably experiencing similar emotions.


My first day in university was nerve wracking, but amazing! It was lovely to meet loads of new friends and tutors who I would be working with for the next few years. 

It is always a great thing to make friends on the course because when times get hard or you feel stuck or confused with work there is ALWAYS someone to talk to.

“Never feel afraid to email or give your tutor a quick ring”

I went on maternity leave for 8 months and once I came back I had lovely friends to help me along the rest of the way. They motivate me so much and if placement gets hard they are quick to offer advice.

I’ve also found university staff are very approachable, never feel afraid to email or give your tutor a quick ring if you have any troubles. They would rather you keep in touch and know what is going on. 


When you’re on placement, there’s several important things to remember that may seem trivial:

  • Remember to take a black pen, they are like gold dust on the wards!
  • Ensure you always bring paperwork to placement and regularly remind your mentor it needs to be completed, sometimes I have been too quiet and polite about this and not wanted to bother anybody but I regretted it later. It is best to be open and honest, that is what nursing is about after all! 
  • Do not let your mistakes upset you too much…

…Once on a ward I was preparing to help a patient eat his dinner. I was raising the bed but had left the side table between the bed rails. As the bed went up, the table with all the food on was coming up too! Before we both knew it there was a huge crash and food everywhere.

I was in my second year and it was such a silly mistake but I got myself worked up and embarrassed. That night I could not stop repeating it, I think I still do to this day.

But (eventually) I managed to laugh with the patient over it.

“It’s best to reflect and move on and grow as a nurse”

It’s best to reflect and move on and grow as a nurse. Never be too hard on yourself over trivial things like this. I have also embarrassed myself in front of staff when I ‘thought’ I pressed the assist button besides a patient’s bed. However I pressed the emergency alarm and 5 nurses and a doctor ran in to the room with me wondering what all the fuss was about.

Again. I was mortified but moved on, these blunders do not make someone a bad nurse, everyone is going to make mistakes .. Reflection is the best remedy for it! 

If you have any problems during university or placement always speak to a member of staff from your university. My university have been fantastic and very approachable, sometimes I would make myself feel terrible worrying about things but as soon as I spoke to somebody it took a huge burden off my shoulders and they helped me, that is what they are there for.

Most importantly, enjoy it, get stuck in and involved on placement and have fun! 


Kate Griffiths is in her third year studying adult nursing at Liverpool John Moores University

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