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Students who are committed and enthusiastic are always welcomed with open arms

  • Comments (13)

Last week, our online editor Nadine and I sat around a phone calling student nurse after student nurse. We had to find four new student editors for Student Nursing Times (one for each branch) and had decided to dedicate an entire day to phone interviews. That morning we each downed a strong coffee and braced ourselves for a very long day.

Six hours later we couldn’t remember what we were worried about. Every student nurse we spoke to reminded us of the incredible job they are working towards - and also reminded us why we had chosen to work on a nursing journal. To say their enthusiasm was infectious would be an understatement – their positive outlook would be a huge asset to any placement lucky enough to have one of our interviewees on board.

At a time when nursing is under fire from negative stereotypes pushed by media portrayals, it would be easy for those considering a career in the profession to be put off. In fact, applications for places on nursing courses have never been higher.

Being a student nurse is not easy. On placements you constantly feel like you’re in the way, unsure what you should be doing or whether you’re doing things right, and have to adapt to a new team every few weeks. I know I wouldn’t volunteer to go through that again.

But while they might not feel they are contributing in any way, students who are committed and enthusiastic are always welcomed with open arms. They might double workloads – and they have certainly done that for us this week – but by reminding us of why we do our jobs in the first place they make themselves invaluable.

And if you’re wondering how the interviews went, we found four great editors, although it was incredibly difficult to choose as all those we interviewed had the right qualities. We’ll be letting them loose on Student NT from 9 September.

  • Comments (13)

Readers' comments (13)

  • tinkerbell

    Enthusiastic, keen to learn, caring students on placement are a breath of fresh air. Let's hope they don't get it beaten out of them by the system or some old die hard. I would much rather work with someone who's going to lift my spirits too than some moaning Minnie with years of experience.

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  • Anonymous

    they are good fun and breeze in like a breath of fresh air and can motivate and teach a whole team and keep everyone on their toes. they are usually very attentive and the patients adore them as they take time to listen.

    on my cohort we had an American student who was rather more precocious and outspoken than the rest of us. On our very first visit to the wards within our first month she ticked off a ward sister when this was unheard of! She told the sister not to tell her off in front of a patient and the sister retorted 'they all know you don't know anything.' Sadly this student left shortly afterwards so we never really got to know her although I am sure she would have been a great asset to our group as well as touching all the wards and patients wherever she went.

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  • First year starts for me on 16th September. I hope that when I am on placement I can learn as much as possible, and also be as useful as possible. At 54, I am acutely aware of how much of an honour it is to be setting out on a new life.

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  • Anonymous

    David Baird | 4-Sep-2013 10:43 pm

    It's exciting to embark on a new career, and a different experience in later life with so much to offer and I wish you all the very best.

    People with experience from outside the NHS is just what nursing needs as some people become very institutionalised and believe there is only one way of thinking and doing things. you may meet with some resistance which you will probably have already encountered during your training however you will be a great asset and support to your patients and your colleagues and many more like you are needed.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 5-Sep-2013 7:02 am

    I agree. A minority are not just set in their ways but set in concrete. It is good to have some experience of dealing with 'difficult' people so that it is not a complete surprise when you come into nursing to find they exist everywhere. It came as a surprise to me many years ago to find there was so much 'rivalry' amongst staff and that's putting it as charitably as I can.

    As one of our managers once said to a group of entrenched old timers who were resistive to any positive, person centred change 'adapt or die'. The room went very quiet. As he was a particularly quiet gentle manager I think they were taken aback that he stood up to their onslaught of negativity with his catchline.

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  • Anonymous

    In my last job when I challenged (very diplomatically I might add because I was the new girl but with over 20 years experience) non-evidence base practice which seemed a combination of old wives tales, quackery, witchcraft, black magic and straight from the witch doctors, I was told by the HCAs we have been doing it this way for the last 10 years. I thought this was something we only read about in books and everybody would have been full of enthusiasm about learning more up to date techniques from somebody straight out of a university hospital!!!!!!!!!! one has a lot to learn in a new job but it was a shock and an eye-opener.

    The second episode, out of quite a catalogue, was when the boss was on a day off and had left instructions for me with the HCAs that i was to change a couple of urinary cathethers (a monthly routine). They handed me two gauge 20 catheters which in my view were far too thick for the patients left in my charge but the only size available, what the patients already had and had apparently always had and I was informed they had to have these as they were incontinent - contrary to current theory and a recent catheterisation course i had attended in my previous job. There were some sniggers at my refusal and I was told in no uncertain terms I had to do the work because the boss had said so but I postponed the task for a couple of hours until another reg. nurse came on duty and queried it with her and got the same response so I said I would leave it and discuss it with the boss the next day who was not in the least pleased with my performance and which resulted in being hauled up with her before the director of the old people's and care home where I was working for failing to carry out her orders. I was hauled over the coals for making a mouse out a mole hill and was dismissed shortly, only three months into the job but there was no way I would traumatise frail elderly and fairly thin patients in this way. I was also very dismayed at being told to re-use the s/c insulin needles and normal syringes for the same person more than once and using 500ml yoghurt-type cartons instead of sharp-safe containers for the disposal of sharps, and many other things such as watching the boss's (also a registered nurse) demonstration of some type of voodoo candle to clear the wax from an elderly patient's ear! I know this is a popular treatment but do not feel it has a place in professional nursing.

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  • Anonymous

    I love students and the freshness, new knowledge and different outlook they bring to the ward. But, in light of previous comments, I have to defend us experienced, highly trained and competent older nurses. Value the knowledge and experience of your mentors. You don't know everything; not everyone is difficult or stuck in the dark ages. In fact, very few are. The overwhelming majority of registered nurses in our NHS are extremely well trained, hard working, evidence-based, competent practitioners, who are excited to be sharing their knowledge and skills with you. So don't make the mistake of assuming you know everything. You will make your own mistakes, and some of them will be howlers (perhaps even dangerous). Hopefully, those around you will support you to better practice, rather than sarcastically cataloguing them with an overuse of exclamation marks.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 5-Sep-2013 5:57 pm

    from Anonymous | 5-Sep-2013 5:10 pm

    I see very little wrong in someone with over 20 years clinical practice and a broad base of experience as well as theoretical knowledge trying to influence a change to safer evidence based practice in a care home where the health care assistants and the hands on nursing director had totally ingrained poor habits dating back in some cases to 10 years previously. In my book 'we do it this way because we have done it this way for the past 10 years' or 'because the boss said so' is not a reason not to change to better and safer proven practice.

    I have also always shown my willingness to learn in any new job or situation but to not exchanging my good and up to ate practice for bad habits and many of which did not even have a clinical basis.

    I see nothing sarcastic, or an over use of exclamation marks following my suggestion or what I thought I had to offer this organisation or that I could catalogue a longer list of their failings in clinical care from trained nurses, including the director and HCAs to whom she should have been setting an example.

    Unfortunately some homes simply do not provide good nursing care, which is well documented, and this was one of them. It can take time to get accepted and make changes but there was certain poor practice which I was not prepared to participate in and they were unable to accept this.

    Previously I had worked in a university hospital and excellent centre for learning and teaching staff at all levels and just thought I had a useful a contribution to make in my new job in this home but it was clearly not the case so we parted company. I already have a reputation for being diplomatic as a change agent and promoting learning rather than trying to force it and this has been cited independently by more than one referee.

    I also welcome the challenge of working with students, newly qualified nurses and other learners as well as patient and family education, and wrote the second comment above and that in response to David Baird.

    In this new job I would have just appreciated the same attention and support which I hopefully offer to others.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 5-Sep-2013 7:53 pm

    My comment was not a defence of poor practice.

    This article is about the value of students, not the tiresome reeling off of the shortcomings of others by a supposed 20 year veteran trying to big up himself/herself. One would hope that you acted, reporting the poor practice appropriately and following it up.

    Either way, it has nothing to do with the subject of the article.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 5-Sep-2013 5:10 pm

    I'm sorry you have had such a rough time, but I think that you should do the elderly (who are defence-less in these circumstances) a favour and report the home/s to the CQC ( reporting to the NMC is a waste of time), then you will have done your duty (& helped the poor old things). Then hopefully be able to move on to something more compassionate.

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