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How to deal with criticism and learn to say 'no' as a student nurse

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Criticism is one of the most helpful tools management have to aid their workforce if it is used in a constructive way. If it is not, it can ruin a person’s self-esteem and damage a team’s morale, explains student editor for adult nursing, Alisha Poole. 

alisha poole

As students we are in constant receipt of criticism – be it on placement or at university. It is how we realise what we are succeeding at and what we could improve on.

It is how we learn that we have made a mistake and have the opportunity to rectify that instead of repeating it. It is a discussion point for us to voice what we don’t understand or what we are concerned about. Criticism is a major part of learning.

Take a step back from yourself for a second to think about your reactions to criticism. It can provoke a wealth of responses in us, however it is important that we learn how to take criticism in order to grow from it.

Beginning my degree I struggled to take criticism in any form – I would feel angry and upset and attacked. As I have moved through the course I have grown and I am now able to understand what constructive criticism is and learn from it.

I am also aware of what destructive criticism looks like and have built resilience to that.

Criticism is something that you will have to get used to as it will be a part of your appraisals and continuous professional development as a nurse. You must constantly strive to improve your practice. Learning how to receive and move forward from criticism will only have positive outcomes for you.

 So a few ideas for how to move forward from criticism

  • · Listen carefully and clarify that your understanding of the situation.
  • · Acknowledge your mistakes, don’t ignore them.
  • · Don’t play the blame game.
  • · Discuss what can happen from here “What do you think I could do differently?”
  • · Discuss any support that you might need – your mentor/personal tutor/manager is there to help you!
  • · Use reflection to develop and improve your practice – “What? So what? Now what?”

Find out more about this year’s student editors here 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Where is the bit about saying 'no' ?

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