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Don’t bottle it up: talk to your mentor

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Student nurse, Megan, found communication between student and mentor is one of the most important elements of a good placement experience

Megan Pritchard_SNT

It’s always tough to be a student nurse on a new placement.

You’re expected to demonstrate key nursing skills and fit in with a team of strangers, while at the same time balancing assignments and sometimes a job.

It’s stressful to say the least.

So doing all these things AND being on a night shift isn’t easy. Not only are your stress levels almost at boiling point, but you now also have to deal with tiredness and learning a whole new routine on the ward.

This is where I found myself on the third week of my placement.

That night shift was possibly the longest 12 hours of my nursing career so far. I felt as though my every move was being scrutinised. I remember changing a sheet on a bed and my mentor telling me I was doing it wrong.

I just thought “I’ve done it this way for three years and no one else has had a problem”.

When we were doing bedtime medications, I felt her eagle eye on me as I fumbled through the drugs cupboard to find the right packet.

When 7am finally rolled around, I had to fight back the tears as I left the ward. I know it seems as though I’m oversensitive, and maybe I was, but all I kept thinking was “if I can’t even make a bed properly, how am I ever going to be a decent nurse?” and my progress review was scheduled for the next shift.

When I got home, I collapsed into bed and when I woke up, I was dreading going back.

My nursing house mate gave me a pep talk as I was getting ready. She told me I needed to tell my mentor how I felt or we’d never get past it. So, as I walked onto the ward that night, I had a sense of determination, knowing I was going to tell her exactly how I felt.

At 3am, we sat down to do my assessment and I geared myself up to tell her how stressed I was.

So when she came out with “Well Megan, I think you’re doing brilliantly!” I burst into tears.

We had a chat and it turned out she had no concerns whatsoever. She was worried that I was so upset and I explained to her that I found her a little critical at times. After this, we worked together a lot better and it ended up being one of the best placements I’ve had.

If you’re in a similar position, talk to your mentor. It was one of the best things I could have done.

Looking back now, I can see that I was probably just stressed with all the others things going on at the time, but telling my mentor helped immensely. That’s what they are there to do – support you and work through the issues.

Keeping it bottled up is only going to make things worse.


Megan Pritchard is in her 3rd year studying adult nursing at Sheffield Hallam University


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