Having completed her training and 11 placements, Amanda Morgan has some handy hints for those who are new to it all
“It’s important to plan your time at college as early as possible, or you’ll find it hard going to fit everything in. If you do that, you can also identify where placements might be useful in giving you a case study for an assignment.
When it comes to studying, you have to find out what works for you. For example, I like to do one assignment at a time, but other people prefer to have a few on the go at once.”
It’s also important to have academic support, so make appointments to see your personal tutor as you work through assignments so you know you’re on the right lines. It’s much easier to change direction halfway through rather than finish and find it’s not up to scratch. Likewise, students can really help each other with ideas and moral support. You can also motivate each other - if it all feels too much, having someone say ‘go on, you can do it’ makes all the difference.
When I did my placements I sometimes found that on many wards, they are so busy the nurses just get on with things then say ‘oh, you could have watched that’. I find it’s good to listen carefully at handover and identify possible learning opportunities, then you can ask your mentor if you can go with that patient.
You do need to be quite assertive and self reliant, or you may find yourself not getting to meet your learning objectives or being asked to do something that’s beyond your competence. When that happens and you say you can’t do it, there’s a danger that you won’t be asked again. The trick is to say that you haven’t done it before but explain you’d be happy to observe so you’ll learn to do it for another time.”
Making the most of your clinical placement
- Be clear about your learning needs for each placement
- Try to discuss your needs with your mentor before a placement begins
- Have another meeting midway through the placement to review your progress and highlight any problems
- Don’t avoid “basic care” - it is an opportunity to learn from both healthcare assistants and patients
- Ask to take on a caseload of patients to learn about holistic care
- If your mentor does not have enough time for you, ask if you can have two mentors
- Be prepared to be flexible in shifts to work with your mentor
- If you don’t get on with your mentor, speak to your university about changing