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Freshers’ week

Becoming a student nurse: tips for success

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Before you start working with a nurse mentor, there are some important things you need to know

Your induction in to the world of nursing is crucial and can make or break your nursing career. These simple tips can help make the transition to student nurse as smooth as possible.

Tips for success

Be on time
Being late for placement impacts on others and creates a bad impression. If you always find yourself running late, set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual. If you arrive early, you can always sit in your car and enjoy a cup of coffee before heading in.

If you are going to be late call your placement to let them know and explain why.

Dress professionally
The way you dress has a big impact on the way others perceive you. You want to be seen as professional and competent. Stick to the dress code and make sure your clothes are neatly pressed, your shoes are clean, and your hair is tidy and tied back. Jewellery should be kept to an absolute minimum - wear only small stud earrings, a wedding ring or other simple ring. Keep your make-up simple - a light application of foundation, blusher and lipstick is acceptable. Keep fingernails short, with no nail polish. Remember: simple is better.

Be attentive and listen
Show a genuine interest in what your nursing mentor has to say. I have been a mentor many times and nothing is worse than having a student who is uninterested and doesn’t pay attention. Being attentive shows the mentor that you want to learn from them and if you don’t demonstrate this they are less likely to want to help you. Do not interrupt your nurse mentor when they are teaching you something. If you have questions, that’s great, but save them until the end. You will find that nurses in the real world often do things in different ways. Both are appropriate, both are acceptable, you can decide how to carry out a particular procedure when you are on your own.

Take notes
Taking notes shows a willingness to learn and will help you tremendously when you’re on your own. When I was a new nurse and being mentored, I carried a small notebook and wrote down almost everything my mentor said. When I got home I would type up the notes and put them in a folder, with sections for patient care, medications, procedures, etc. This meant that once I was on my own I had my own manual to refer back to. As I progressed, I added my own notes such as which IV drugs need to be diluted and how long to take to push a particular IV drug. I cannot tell you how many colleagues asked for copies of my homemade manual - even seasoned nurses.

 

Joanna Hysler is a graduate student for the Family Nurse Partnership programme, due to graduate in 2014

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