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'I'm worried I'll see patients treated badly when I start my mental health nursing degree'


Can you advise this student nurse?

“I have been accepted onto a mental health nursing course starting this September.

“I’m really excited but worried about what I might see. Having been a patient myself, I’ve seen inappropriate restraint and staff bullying patients, I’ve also met nurses and HCAs with terrible attitudes who expect patients to just do what they’re told without question.

“I’m not sure how I’d handle this if I saw it on placement, I feel like I’d have to speak up, and this could jeopardize my chances of passing.

“Are my fears justified?”

- Anonymous


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Readers' comments (4)

  • First thing is always talk it through with your mentor...if you still feel uncomfortable ask for support from your link lecturer.. Don't go it alone don't keep quiet and try to ignore it... Most important thing is to reflect on what you have seen and been told, if you still feel uncomfortable talk to your personal tutor

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  • There are policies and procedures in place within both your university and your trust with regards to whistle blowing on bad practice etc. It can be a frightening prospect, but as a student nurse and a nurse you are the patients advocate, if they can't speak out for themselves then it is your job to do so. I'm sure you understood that already.

    I would just say however, that the possibility of discovering bad practice is going to be present throughout your entire career as a nurse, not just while you are a student. This may seem daunting, but it is one of the responsibilities of your role, as previously mentioned you are the patients advocate. I haven't came across bad practice on any of my placements, but it does happen. There are support systems in place for anyone that does find themselves in the unfortunate position of discovering this kind of practice. Your university and the other staff in your placement area will support you.


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  • Edward Freshwater

    You will definitely see bad practice wherever you go - just a sad part of human nature, but the most important thing is how we respond to it. Good nurses will allow their practice to be challenged, bad nurses will tell you to mind your own business.
    Report poor practice to your mentor or nurse in charge. If you have to, look at the Trust's whistleblowing procedure and use that as well.
    One of the best things is to engage in regular supervision with a tutor and/or classmates.
    Hope that's useful.

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  • I will be starting my second year in MH nursing in a few weeks. Luckily for me, so far, I haven't seen anything bad in practice. It is a worry, however, you will have a very strong support network at uni and hopefully within placement. Bad practice is usually (hopefully) because staff don't know any better - I.E. the bad restraints etc. A lot of nurses though do have bad attitudes. It is very important you have the strength and confidence to flag issues up if you feel that's what needs to happen. Start telling yourself that now. Bad practice is only allowed to happen or continue because staff feel they are untouchable or that people won't report them. It is our jobs as students and nurses to report bad practice as soon as we see it. It's bad that you've had bad experiences yourself, but try not to worry.

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