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I feel like a healthcare assistant

  • 1 Comment

This student feels under-utilised on placement. Can you help her deal with the problem? 

”I’ve just been on my second placement, and it was exhausting again - which I would be fine with if I felt like I was doing my job, only I don’t think I am.

“Each time I have been working I felt like nothing more than a healthcare assistant. As though I was just there to make the real nurses’ lives easier.

“I understand that, if there’s a shortage of staff, students are more likely to have to do the bathing and teeth-cleaning, but it felt like that’s ALL I was there to do, and it makes me feel like placements are a waste of time as I am not learning anything. How should I deal with this?”

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • I’m almost 6 months newly qualified and I remember all too well experiencing the feelings of frustration on clinical placements. Although, as students we are supposed to have a supernumerary status, this isn’t always achievable due to staff shortages and unfortunately I think we do get substituted and counted in the numbers too often. The best advice I can give you is to keep positive and remember every shift of every placement is still a learning opportunity. Although we are required to work as a member of the team and sometimes that means being a healthcare assistant for the day, we also have an aim and that is to learn how to become a nurse. As a student I learned that the best way to achieve this learning was to be proactive create my own opportunities. This is what made a shift different from an average day on the ward as a healthcare assistant to a student nurse. I started each placement with a goal of what I wanted to learn from that clinical area. For example, on my cardiac placement I spent the day in theatres watching surgery, spent a week in the catheter labs, spent time with the specialist cardiac nurses, I shadowed the critical care nurses and watched various other procedures. I spoke to my mentors about what I wanted to achieve on a placement and found out what learning opportunities were available. At the start of each shift, if there was an procedure mentioned during hand over I would ask if I could observe and assist in any way. My point is that as a student you are not confined to working within specific ward for the whole duration of a placement. Student nurses have the opportunity to shadow various other healthcare professionals during clinical placements, within reason. Spend time with the physios, the O.T’s, respiratory and cardiac physiologists. Take any opportunity possible to learn about other healthcare professionals role in caring for patients. Since qualifiying I have realised how vital these spoke days have been to my learning and how I have been able to apply this knowledge to my clinical practice. Good luck and keep going! It will all be worth it in the end!

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