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‘I end up doing admin all day on placement’


Can you advise this student nurse?

“I’m halfway through second year and still waiting for that placement where I ‘find my feet’ and stop feeling terrified all the time! I get quite shy when I first start and to be honest it doesn’t really get any better even when I start to figure out what I should be doing.

“The best way I’ve found to handle it is to find jobs that I can do independently – mainly admin tasks, but stuff that people appreciate – so that I know what I’m doing when I come in and don’t feel lost every day. That helps me feel a bit less out of place, but then I end up just doing filing, I seriously spent a whole day doing admin this week!

“It’s not that I’m being told to do non-clinical stuff, but now everyone just knows that’s what I’ll do so no-one suggests anything else.

“What would you do in this situation? I’m really, really unconfident so putting myself forward for stuff is way out of my comfort zone – I’d need to plan exactly what to say and right now I don’t even know where to start without sounding like a nuisance!”

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Readers' comments (9)

  • I also really struggled with my confidence on placement and I'm now in my sign off placement and feeling more ready to be a nurse than I ever thought I would be in previous placements i almost quit in second year things felt so bad, my main advice is talk to your mentor and personal tutor, tell them what's happening and what you feel even if you have to gain your own confidence by practicing the skills you know you have try to step a little further out of your comfort zone each shift, it might feel exhausting and you might feel anxious and sick awful at first but soon you will be able to look back and you will wonder what you were afraid of in the first place. Good luck it's hard work but if your determined then you can do it!

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  • You should right it in your objectives for the beginning (or if you are already on placement mid-point) review with your mentor. e.g if you want to learn more about wound care for example. Write it in your pad. Think of things that might help to to achieve it- helping with wound dressing with the aim of being able to assess them by yourself at the end of the placement, spoke with the TVN etc... then when you meet your mentor it shows you have thought about it. And they can discuss with you how you can achieve that.

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  • What you could do with is a darn good mentor and a frank truthful discussion. Seriously you display the right kind of aptitude but now need pushing outside of your comfort zone. Don't fear making mistakes try to avoid them but I can tell you, you will make them learn by them, they are lessons your mentor a good one at least will prevent you from doing harm. make a plan use your guides and mentors pefs etc and go get the job done you deserve it and all the very best x

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  • I've just been qualified a year yet I can still remember being in the same place as you. It sounds as if you've been very helpful so far getting admin tasks done and I bet the team do appreciate this. However I imagine you would like to feel more confident in your other nursing skills and to complete your competencies that need signing off.
    I had the exact same problem in my second year.. I was in the community and noone wanted to take me out on visits so I was left in the office doing admin! What I did in the end was I spoke to my mentor on placement that I wanted more responsibility (and to be fair she was impressed by how keen I was) and I slowly got my own caseload bit by bit. (Way better than filing all day!)
    Don't be too hard on yourself it is hard for students to know what exactly you can/cant do on placement. My advise is to ask your mentor for more responsibility and it she/he disagrees, ask to shadow a few visits/keyworking first. Also, if you feel your mentor isn't helping definitely get your university tutor involved - it can be very helpful!!!!
    I hope this helps.

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  • It is very difficult for a student to come into a placement as a stranger and work with a team of people you have never met before. If you have been having the same experiences in all your placements, it's not all your fault. Your mentor should be guiding you towards achieving competencies and accomplishing tasks set out in your student booklets. Before you start your next shift, plan what YOU want to get out of the shift. Tell your mentor at the beginning of your shift what you want to do. It could be performing all the drug rounds or wound care for all the patients on your team. Admin is an important part of your training, but when you qualify, you need to be able to prioritise all the tasks you have during a shift and your priorities will often change at a rapid rate. To achieve competency you will need to learn how to juggle all these things. It's up to you to tell your mentor what you want from your placements and its up to them to help you achieve this. Good luck.

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  • Where is your mentor while you're doing all this admin?! Hopefully your university link is approachable because you need to sit down with them and explain what is going on ASAP. How can you achieve your competencies if you are "doing admin all day"? I am a mentor and I wouldn't ever leave my students to just do admin! However shy they are, all students deserve respect and nurturing. Your mentor should be giving you guidance on how to nurse and including you in what they are doing otherwise how else will you learn?
    Please speak with your university if you can't approach your mentor

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  • Goes to Registered Nurse competency too.
    As a Mentor we sign off to say a Student Nurse has reached a certain level ... or not. That support may be what they need as their struggles are addressed. Been there.
    I recently bumped into one Student I mentored who had struggled in first year and whom I had called in help for. That same Student was now waiting on her PIN and was proudly looking forward to a post in surgical nursing. How cool to be part of that.
    Some patients get well again, however the harshness of sickness, suffering, dying and death can be hard to face. We need to show compassion to those who, while wanting to be Registered Nurses in order to help others, may not quite have realised those realities.
    Support Student Nurses in the way you would have liked to have been supported.

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  • Talk to your mentor. A mentor is there to guide you and facilitate your learning. You should explain to them exactly what you've explained here. It's ok that you find it difficult to explain what you need to learn, you sound like you've thought a lot about it, you just need someone to help you get there. Your mentor should make suggestions and create opportunities then guide you through them at this stage. Later you'll develop confidence and be able to ask for these opportunities yourself but for now your development needs are focussed on building your confidence. Being shy is ok, you will learn how to manage it with the help of your colleagues. If they aren't helping you, talk to your tutors. Don't be ashamed. You'll get there!

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  • I am a student in my 2nd year currently, what i think you shouls do is having a goal for the day you aim at achieving. I presume you have been in placement for a while now, and you have seen some skills in practise, why not improve on aome of them and be proactive. You can put yourself forward to administer some injections or during the drug round. Alot for you to so than doing admin all day. Best of luck

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