Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'I went from an expert in academia to a novice on the ward. It was quite the shock'

  • Comment

Jan Royal and Craig Meager discuss supporting nursing students in the emergency department of a regional Major Trauma Centre.

Craig and I worked together to support nursing students in our respective lecturer and clinical roles in the emergency department of a regional Major Trauma Centre. As a lecturer I did not have a clinical background in emergency care and after a few visits felt uncomfortable supporting students when my anxiety over the surroundings and busy environment meant I was distracted whilst in the department and unsure of how to respond to questions or clinical situations.

After discussion with Craig, the charge nurse, he offered to mentor me during a shift in the department to alleviate these fears. An honorary contract was arranged with the Trust to enable this. Saturday night in ‘resus’ was booked!

I was an experienced nurse turned lecturer but the range of emotion I felt prior to and during the shift was surprising. If I felt like this, how did students feel? I felt faint and nauseous during handover even though my role was clearly defined as observer with some participation. I was worried that more would be expected of me as a registered nurse and felt out of my depth due to a lack of experience.

As patients arrived initially I stood back and observed. Craig skilfully drew me in by asking me to do essential tasks as part of the patient care. Observations and making patients comfortable I was fine with. And then when a patient vomited I felt reassured that I knew what to do. I asked many questions, even ones about small issues such as how to attach the new style name-band. As the shift progressed I participated more as my anxiety reduced.

Since then I have reflected as a tutor on this experience with both mentors and students in class in order to highlight how a new placement may feel and the changes in confidence that a person can have in the right environment - as I did. Further, I now recognise I have more to offer to the placement area than I realised, my anxiety about the visits being significantly reduced.

As the practicing clinician supported by Jan from an academic perspective, I could not believe the same person was in front of me when in a clinical environment. She was a quivering wreck. Despite all assurances provided, her anxiety would not abate. We hit the ground running with a major trauma as our first case and despite encouragement Jan was adamant to remain on the sidelines.

I was amazed by how Jan, a normally confident character, was scared to even ask where the toilet was.

As the shift progressed it was obvious that her confidence was growing and she happily undertook more of a participatory role and by the end I began to suspect that she was actually enjoying it.

This experience proved to be a role reversal, with me as teacher and Jan as anxious learner in the clinical environment. As a charge nurse I am now more acutely aware that how students and new starters initially present may not necessarily be a true reflection of their usual character.

Craig Meager

For both of us it has been a reminder of the need for immediate and ongoing support for students during their placements and a reminder of the anxiety a new placement can bring.

Jan Royal is a Lecturer, Division of Nursing, The University of Nottingham and at the time Craig Meager was Deputy Charge Nurse and Student Link Nurse, Emergency Department, Nottingham University Hospitals.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.