This time last year I was preparing myself for my first placement of my first year of learning disability nursing training; I was terrified.
I have a tendency to mull things over in my head for hours on end and eventually end up driving those closest to me towards the nearest bottle of vodka.
For me, one of the biggest issues of my first placement was travelling. The placement was 40 miles from my home in a town I didn’t know and truth be told I had already convinced myself that I was going to hate it.
“How useful would it be if we could find the answers to our anxieties on social media?”
I took to social media in search of the perfect answer to all my anxieties. What I found was a thousand other students with similar anxieties. Yet this offered no real comfort; why did nobody have the answers I was (relentlessly) searching for?
Anyway, back to the present day.
How useful would it be if we could find the answers to our anxieties on social media?
“This got me thinking. Could we use trending and hashtags to provide a modernised support network to student nurses with anxieties surrounding placements and academic challenges?”
We all spend countless hours on social media and sites such as Twitter and Facebook are some of the most accessible to-date. It is arguable that many students know their way around Twitter better than their hometown and will undoubtedly be able to tell you what’s trending today.
This got me thinking. Could we use trending and hashtags to provide a modernised support network to student nurses with anxieties surrounding placements and academic challenges? The days of popping in to speak to your tutor or seeking advice from a third-year are nearing an end.
In light of this, I came up with a few hashtags I feel would be top of my trending list when seeking advice for placement survival.
If you are like me, when you hear the word reflection you instantly become uninterested and sigh at the thought of hearing the same old things over and over again - keep a reflective diary; reflect on your day and think about what you could of done better; etc.
“Question your practices, criticise your beliefs and take action from the areas of development you’ve identified through self-questioning”
I mean, seriously? I’m not a child that needs to be constantly reminded of the trillion things I have to do before I can even breathe in the mornings. Truth is, reflection is vital to your personal development. Question your practices, criticise your beliefs and take action from the areas of development you’ve identified through self-questioning.
Yes I know, it’s that dreaded word again. Budgeting can be hard, particularly when you’re a student. However, if you want to survive placement without money worries make budgeting your new best friend.
I made the mistake of not budgeting for my first placement, and as you can probably imagine, travelling 80 miles a day has financial implications. If it wasn’t for the bank of Mum I wouldn’t have been able to continue placement because I ran out of money for fuel.
“I’ve now got a savings account into which I put an amount of money each month to use when I go on placement. This way I’m prepared and not left bankrupt halfway through a placement”
However, family and friends are not something you want to have to rely on if you make the mistake of blowing your bursary. I’ve now got a savings account into which I put an amount of money each month to use when I go on placement. This way I’m prepared and not left bankrupt halfway through a placement. Try it.
A huge issue for me on my first placement was maintaining a decent social life. I became consumed by placement and my sole focus was to ensure my competencies were being met and make sure I was completing my allocated hours.
“I completely forgot about my life before placement. I started to become a recluse from my friends and this made me miserable”
I completely forgot about my life before placement. I started to become a recluse from my friends and this made me miserable.
It took me a while to find the balance between placement, work and a social life. All I will say is going out on a Saturday night and coming back Sunday morning regretting those shots of Jäeger will not impede your development as a professional, as long as you do it in moderation. Remember, life doesn’t stop because you’re on placement.
The power of hindsight is a wonderful gift that I am yet to be given. Still, if we utilise the full potential of social media we can hopefully seek to provide worthwhile advice to students who need it most.
Rebecca Wallett is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for learning disabilities branch