Having a placement in a new hospital is a very different experience; the shift patterns, how they work under pressure, even simple things of how different members of staff speak to each other can be overwhelming to a student nurse.
I have been fortunate that all of my placements during my training have been in my local community hospital, one with seven wards and a fantastic atmosphere. Prior to studying nursing I worked there for three years as a healthcare support worker and at weekends I work as a food service assistant. I know “my little hospital” so well and all the staff in it too.
This has worked to my advantage over the years, I can speak to the sisters and nurses confidently, I know exactly where to collect medications, take patients for
appointments and become familiar with patients coming in for different types of treatment. Although the benefits have helped me become the student nurse that I
am now, there are downsides. I have ever only known one hospital and their routine.
Members of staff know my personality, which is friendly and outgoing, but I’m not confident in being assertive or disputing something when I think it is wrong. The latter has been upsetting me recently, doubting my capabilities overall and making me anxious for when I qualify later this year. Also working in the same hospital can sometimes mean you might always be known as the “student” or the baby of the hospital.
When I received information that my critical care placement was going to be in a different hospital, a city hospital with over 20 wards, I had mixed emotions. I was
excited about being a member of staff in bigger hospital but I was also nervous, I would know no one in any department or even the hospital! I decided to embrace my
positive feelings and created an action plan that would help my confidence, help me learn how to speak up not only for myself but also for my patient’s care and support me in becoming a qualified member of staff.
As the shifts have progressed, I have really seen a change in what I call “my nursing personality”. I am asking members of staff questions, asking what their planned
outcomes for this patient and why have they made a decision this way. I’m explaining to doctors about patient’s past medical history and any concerns that they have. I am also working well as part of a team, rather than standing back and observing what other nurses do, I am there, sharing my knowledge and recommending what we do for this patient to help them feel more comfortable. No task that people set me is scary; I’m relishing the unfamiliar and learning as much as I can.
My nerves about qualifying and becoming more confident as a nurse have subsided.
Yes, I am a friendly person with a kind personality, but that doesn’t mean that other members of staff can push me to the sidelines because I’m polite and don’t appear to have authority. This placement in a different hospital has benefited me; I feel that I have been able to reinvent myself from student nurse to “very nearly” qualified nurse. I have become more professional, can plan ahead and really take hold in being in charge and prioritizing my tasks. I feel that I have gone back to my first placement, where I was so eager and excited to learn everything and anything. If I can learn all this from one placement and still have a smile on my face, I’m sure being a qualified member of staff will no longer be a scary challenge.
Kayleigh Russell is a third year student, adult branch, studying at the University of Nottingham.