Erin Docherty’s final blog (for now) has some survival tips for students everywhere. Essential reading for the student nurse!
It turns out that I was right to be panicking about that last essay. I failed it. Meaning I failed the semester. Resulting in the need to retake the semester.
Three semesters from qualifying and an essay stops me in my tracks. I am now on leave of absence until May next year where I will start again.
Yes, it was upsetting - I felt lost for days. It was a bit humiliating telling all these people I had spent two years studying with that I was not going to be graduating with them. But I’m still here. I am absolutely determined to finish this course and if it means 7 months on leave then so be it.
I feel even now that I have lost a bit of myself. I can no longer call myself a student nurse for the next 7 months. I have a job in a call centre to see me through. However, before I disappear into the world without continence products, blood results and therapeutic holistic care, I thought it would be a good opportunity to leave a few pointers I’ve picked up for my fellow Scottish students going into placement for the first time! It’s scary I know! But maybe these tips will make it that little bit easier!
Always show the utmost respect to the auxiliaries. These people know the wards inside out and will take the time to show you how to make a bed properly. If you’re ever looking for something they will know where to find it and you can be sure that, if you form good relationships with the nursing assistants, they will support you through the nine weeks.
Always make sure you know what you are doing. If you are asked by another member of staff to carry out a task, then don’t second guess it. Make sure you understand and are capable of doing exactly what has been asked. Nobody will think less of someone for being careful.
Never be afraid to make the tea! No matter what anyone says, making the tea on the tea break can go a long way. It shows you aren’t afraid to muck in and can also lead to a few invitations to staff nights out!
If a patient asks “Am I going to be OK nurse”, think very carefully about the response. We all went into nursing wanting to help heal people, but you must always make sure you never make promises that aren’t certain. Seek advice from your mentor.
If you are finding things particularly hard, always try and resolve it on the ward before contacting the university - staff and mentor’s will all appreciate the opportunity to resolve issues on ward level and it may also help mend relationships. Only contact the university if it cannot or has not been resolved.
Don’t be afraid to cry. I wouldn’t recommend you do it on the ward, but it is perfectly ok to cry. We all have awful days as student nurses and it’s important that you deal with the bad day and then move on. Tomorrow will bring new challenges and new people.
Never refuse a task without good reason - believe it or not I have worked on placements with other students who refused to make beds and shower patients - they viewed this as an auxiliary job. Basic care is the grounding of our occupation and you should never forget that. Patients’ needs come before the paper work.
When working in particularly “messy” wards it’s always a good idea to take a spare uniform for your locker. There is nothing worse than turning up in your crisp white tunic for a shift and having it soiled half an hour later. Be prepared for all eventualities!
It is ok to ask for help! Should you ever need emotional, educational or practical support this should always be available to you. It’s a demanding job, some things take longer to learn than others; some situations will be completely new to you, so lean on those around you when you need to.
Work alongside all the staff. Although you will be given a mentor, it is important to understand that every qualified nurse has some responsibility towards your learning. There will be times your mentor goes off sick or is on annual leave, and by working alongside all the staff you will prepare yourself well should any of these situations occur.
Just ten tips. Could have written a book, but life is about learning. So as I go off to answer calls for the next seven months, I want to send you all the best of wishes as you embark on this first placement. Enjoy it. Never take it for granted. Treat every patient as you would want to be treated.
Thank you also to Gabriel Fleming for giving me the opportunity to contribute these blogs. I hope you’ll have me back next year!
This blog also appears on nursesuniverse.blogspot.com
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