Last week, I received an email from a student nurse wanting to ask the Student Nursing Times community for some advice.
We host a regular feature on Student NT for our readers to discuss problems and offer advice, so this email was nothing new. But its content struck a chord with me.
Victoria started her email by saying that the nurses on her placement “weren’t very nice”. She was told to “get on with it” and “find your own learning opportunities”, she felt ignored and it sounded like your classic too-busy-for-students ward.
But her main concern wasn’t for herself, but for the patients the ward was meant to be looking after. As an outsider looking at the ward culture from a fresh perspective, Victoria saw how patients were ignored and she noted “there seems to be a massive lack of compassion and respect for patients”.
We know that there are wards out there run by individuals who are burnt out or so overwhelmed with paperwork and stress that they can’t see the wood for the trees. But every person who responded to Victoria seemed to have experienced the same:
“Sorry to hear that you are experiencing this. I too had a similar problem at one of my placements”
“I can really empathise with your situation as I have been there too”
“Had a similar experience myself in my mental health placement”
“I too had this, so I can completely understand where you’re coming from”
“What you describe is not unique to where you are. Indeed, I have experienced the same scenario both as a student and as a qualified nurse”
“Victoria, this sounds very much like my first MH placement in first year…and looking back on it I recognise it was something of a baptism of fire.”
Thankfully, many of the commenters suggested Victoria raise her concerns and I hope those who could empathise with her had already raised theirs. But with so many student nurses reporting similar experiences, I had to wonder, do student nurses feel able to take their concerns further? And when they do, is something done about them?
Raising concerns doesn’t need to mean getting staff into trouble. But it does mean management are made aware that the culture on that ward, for whatever reason, isn’t working.
Are you surprised to hear student nurses reporting these experiences?