I am currently on my final placement and nearing the end of my course. The concept of becoming a registered nursing is now starting to dawn on me.
After working four hard, long years I am ready to qualify but I’m afraid of being suddenly responsible and accountable.
Despite this, in my management placement I found a good balance between the much needed support I want before I’m officially qualified and the freedom to make my own decisions.
It’s a difficult balance to make as there is a fine line between too much and not enough support, which could both equally cause a slower transition into becoming a qualified nurse.
Students are supposed to look up to their mentor, to aspire to be like them. Throughout my training I’ve found that the relationship with my mentor is crucial to how much I get from a placement and how much effort I put in.
A mentor who follows their student’s every move and doesn’t provide freedom to make care decisions can hinder future practice and knock a student’s confidence prior to qualification.
On the other hand, a mentor who gives too much freedom without the ability to ask questions when you are unsure can equally reduce a student’s confidence too. From experience this can easily happen, but luckily for me it didn’t happen in my final year.
Having trained for four years I now feel confident in my own abilities and that I have the theoretical knowledge to support my clinical decisions.
However, being unqualified I constantly need reassurance that the decisions I am making are justified and safe, not only for the patients but for my own personal practice. Occasionally the need for support is purely for my own self-confidence, at other times it is to ensure that my patient care is safe and in accordance with best practice. I would like to think that this is where the training to be a sign-off mentor aids the mentor to reassure students like myself.
We all need a supportive and reassuring mentor who allows for independent practice. The problem I have found with this is that mentors can be uncertain about letting students make clinical decisions due to the risk that it is their registration on the line.
I still feel I have a lot to learn and especially in whichever speciality I choose to pursue for my nursing career. But I am certain the vast majority of students on their management placement, like me and my friends, are having more problems with confidence that anything practical. Mentors are essential in helping to build students’ confidence and allowing to jump this final hurdle.
On management placements mentors should take a back-seatby providing support and reassurance but also allowing for independent practice. Practice in this way will allow future registered nurses like me to be able to practice competently and confidently, speeding up the transition from student to registered nurse.
Angharad Lloyd-Jones is a forth year nursing student studying at the University of Nottingham.