Apparently there's no such thing as a stupid question!
If there is something that you don't know then you should ask. If someone makes you feel 'stupid' when you ask something, then they are not the person to ask next time!
What about carrying a notebook in your pocket and if you are able jot down any questions you might have (only if the time is appropriate, not in the middle of medication round of course) maybe you could share these with other students or staff on your placement and get answers that way.
When I commenced my nursing career (as a mature new starter) I did actually 'do my mentor's head in' with the why's and how's.
I am more than happy to answer any questions for students and newly qualified nurses as we all should.
The majority of mentors will be glad you asked that 'stupid question' and how on earth are you supposed to know all the information on your first healthcare placement?
Enjoy you nurse training and carry on questioning!
I work in a 10 bedded general intensive care unit, of which I regularly take charge. It worries me that there are staff that regularly miss their breaks as they say 'they are too busy'. There are occasions when this statement is true, however, generally it is because of poor time management and lack of planning. While this is not true every where and for everyone, there will be times when it is not possible to take regular breaks.
Not taking your breaks is not safe practice and will have an impact on staff well being and patient care.
As a student you are protected and should be encouraged to take regular breaks and you should not be made to feel guilty if those around you feel that they do not have time to take their break. We all feel under pressure to finish a task before taking a break, however there are times when that task can wait until after you are refuelled and refreshed.
As nurses we are all very guilty of not putting ourselves first. Imagine if the patient was put in the position of a staff nurse and didn't receive fluids, nutrition and rest. Also remember once qualified that that breaks are 'paid back' within your contracted hours agreement, even if you haven't taken one this rule applies.
Continue to take your breaks and encourage those around you to do the same.
You are correct in saying that working long hours is part of today's nursing culture. However, you have a contract of employment and you are obligated to fulfill those hours and no-one can force you to work overtime. If you have an issue with the management of your area then you need to seek advice from your union representative. If you cannot advocate for yourself how will you be able to do the same for your patients! If you become unwell due to working extra while covering for others being sick then that will just increase the burden on the other team members.
Despite the pressure you are feeling it is ok to say no!
Comment on: 'My placement don't want me there'
I am extremely sorry to hear about your predicament. This is not what should happen to anyone during their nurse training. The fact that you actually contacted the placement before your arrival should have prepared them, unfortunately this has happened, but I think that you should firstly discuss this with your mentor, especially the behaviour of the person you spoke to regarding your placement. If you feel that your mentor is not supportive you could speak to your personal tutor and see if they can offer you some advice. It does not matter how many students that a designated placement area has, each student is as important as the next.
It may be that the area is renowned for their problems adapting to receiving students frequently and this says more about them than their students. If nothing else, at least you know how not to behave as a future professional, as I did on one of my first placements.
As for the person that thinks you are looking for excuses not to be on your placement, maybe someone should point out that nurse education has undergone major changes to placements, including Hub and Spoke placements. Maybe this individual is not a mentor, or if they are, do not attend yearly mentorship updates.
You could use this opportunity to reflect on the situation which will also help you to develop as a student and a future professional and hopefully a mentor once qualified.
Enjoy your studies, but try to remember to use all placements/activities as potential learning activities, whether positive or negative. It's all about you and how you evaluate and use all experiences to your advantage to ensure you come out the other side of nurse training as a well rounded individual.
Comment on: 'What can I expect from placement?'
Your first placement may appear to be daunting, but what you have to keep in mind is that you are there to learn and apply new skills which will be used throughout your future career. Your mentor and other staff should understand your limitations and they should support you through your placement. It is a challenge both to yourself and the person who is allocated to oversee your placement to ensure that you have the opportunity to develop as a future nurse.
Observe everything that you are able to, be involved in all that you can. The best way to learn is to be involved, you don't achieve anything by standing back and watching others.
Enjoy your training, and good luck in your first placement.