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'I'm torn deciding which specialty to pursue in the future'


During my first year at university training to be an adult nurse I have had a number of clinical placements in a variety of specialties from out of branch placements to core hospital placements such as an orthopaedic elective ward.

Having the chance to do an assortment of placements has allowed me to see which specialties appeal and which don’t. For each individual student this will vary depending on what you are looking for in your future role as a nurse. Not only has it given me insight into possible career options but I’ve also gained priceless experience in numerous settings and sub specialties.

For me, my orthopaedic placement opened my eyes to a new speciality I had not considered before. During my placement I got the chance to encounter a range of learning environments allowing me to see the variety a job in this specialty would allow in a day’s work.

I experienced ward rounds, handover, patient care, theatre and clinics in both elective and trauma orthopaedics. The variety was amazingly appealing to me, as is the chance to have a diverse working day. Having the chance to spend time in theatre was brilliant. Watching orthopaedic surgery gave me a greater understanding of the anatomy and physiology involved.

However, unfortunately my future career decision is not quite that simple, as orthopaedics has not been the only specialty that my clinical placements have made me consider pursuing as a career option.

Practice and district nursing appeals massively too as my time spent there has shown me the true challenge that this role can offer. From one appointment to the next you have no idea who will walk through your clinic door, whether they will be a newborn or a 90 year old, whether they have a leg ulcer or are a cancer patient.

As a community nurse you have access to only the most basic tests and therefore are required to diagnose and treat using your clinical knowledge, history taking and examination skills. This was particularly highlighted when, as part of my clinical placements, I observed and assisted both a practice nurse and district nurse.

So for me, my clinical placements in both orthopaedics and community nursing have influenced my potential future careers.

However with a couple more years of clinical placements to go who knows what other specialties may appeal, maybe I have yet to encounter my future post in nursing.

Cerys David is a first year nursing student at the University of Chester.


Readers' comments (5)

  • I am so glad that you wrote this blog as I am coming to the end of my first year in a few months. Me and3 of my fellow students are aware that we can request placements and we have been discussing where we want to experience our next year, we have been asking other year 2 & 3 students around the hospital about the placements they have been on and what experiences and challanges that they had. Staff nurses have told me to leave A & E for year 3 and that theatre is a fantastic opportunity. I really want to experience a pallative care placement as that is where I would love to work in the future but having just experienced orthopaedics, I know feel torn and really want to see an orthopaedics theatre..

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  • Little One

    I begin my final placement in June (ARGH!) and I have no idea where I want to specialise when I qualify. We were not given the choice to pick any of our placements, apart from this last one, and it was really hard for me to write 5 choices down as I have no idea where I want to work.

    The only things I am certain of are:
    - I made the right choice doing Adult Nursing and not taking my Child place.
    - I don't want to work in A&E/Theatres.
    - I don't want to work in Urology/GU.
    - I like working with elderly patients.
    - I like caring for Level 2 patients but am still worried about Level 3's.

    The 5 choices I wrote down were:
    - Stroke Rehabilitation
    - Haematology
    - GI Medicine
    - Burns and Plastics
    - Oncology

    Who knows where I'll work/get a job!

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  • Sha12

    Hi I am a student nurse, and will be starting my placement in the next month of so, what advice do you think will be useful, I have no idea where my placement is, I have a open mind and I'm very excited to start.

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  • advice would be to give the placement your all, don't listen to the opinions of students who have been there previously, make up your own mind. Always treat every member of staff with respect as everyone can teach you something from your Staff Nurse colleagues to the doctor to the housekeepers.

    In your initial interview make sure you ask what opportunities there are for you to fully explore the placement, eg. can you visit theatre? Outreach teams? Spend time with physios and OTs?

    Hope that helps a bit and most of all good luck with your placement!

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  • Hi, I am a student nurse soon to be commencing my final year in September. I have enjoyed every placement to date some more than others. My advice would be to make the most of each placement as there will be some placements that you dislike. View it as a learning opportunity and gain support from your mentor and other members of staff. I am so pleased that I did adult nursing as the opportunities are endless. I surprised myself when I really enjoyed spending two weeks with the health visitors. Other students on my course had all complained about it being boring but I went with an open mind and loved it. I think the best advice is to enter each placement with an open mind and not worry if other students have not enjoyed that particular nursing ward/area. We are all different and all enjoy different aspects of nursing.

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