Stevie-Jade’s final placement initially knocked her confidence, but speaking to her mentors helped her realise just how normal her fears were
Although it still feels a little surreal to reflect on, last month I had my last ever shift as a student nurse.
It was a night shift and as I stepped out of the hospital’s doors for the final time (at least for now), it was still dark.
It was also chilly and wet, a rather miserable September morning really, which was in stark contrast to the great sense of achievement I felt in moving one huge step closer to becoming a qualified nurse.
“There were no fireworks, congratulatory banners nor applauding spectators”
Likewise, and much to my disappointment, there were no fireworks, congratulatory banners nor applauding spectators adorning the streets of my final walk home as a student. In fact there was nothing at all to commemorate how different I felt that walk was in comparison to all of those that had preceded it.
Just clouds, cold and rain.
My final placement had been an incredibly challenging and emotional experience on an intensive care ward. It had often stretched me, both psychologically and physically, as far as I could go without breaking.
The new challenges that intensive care nursing presented had left me feeling incompetent, disheartened, and above all else, worried for the first few weeks.
“How had I got this far without anyone realising how completely rubbish I was?”
Worried that despite being a supposedly experienced third year student a month or so away from qualifying, that I was not cruising smoothly through my final placement. I was worried I was asking too many ‘silly questions’ and that sometimes I really did not know what the best course of action was for the individuals in my care.
I started to question how I had got this far without anyone realising how completely rubbish I was.
Fortunately, throughout the entirety of my training I have lived by the age-old adage that “it’s good to talk”.
I have regularly initiated discussions about my concerns and progress with each of my mentors during the last three years and this has enabled me to more effectively reflect and build upon my strengths and limitations.
At the end of my second week on the ward I decided that honesty, even as a third year (!), was still the best policy and so spoke to both my mentors individually about how I was feeling (in short, pretty useless). Although I had been very worried about how they would respond to my concerns, both were extremely supportive and reassured me that my anxieties were completely normal for a student new to the ward and so close to qualifying.
In our diligent attempts to observe and learn as much as possible from qualified staff members, I think we often forget that every one of our mentors was once a student themselves and so it was reassuring to hear that my mentors had had similar worries and experiences during their final placements.
“I now regard my progress during these final weeks of my course to be my greatest achievement as a student nurse”
They were also keen to reassure me that despite my reservations there are not many ‘silly questions’ when it comes to protecting patient safety and that remaining conscientious and reflective is key to becoming a competent and confident nurse.
For the rest of my placement, after becoming more familiar with the ward environment and with the support of my mentors, I felt much more positive about both the ups and downs of my final days as a student.
After a very intimidating start to the ward, I now regard my progress during these final weeks of my course to be my greatest achievement as a student nurse and consider my placement on intensive care to be the most inspiring of my training.
So despite the cold and drizzle and there not being any fireworks, banners or spectators during my final walk home, there was quite a spring in my step as well as an immense sense of pride at successfully moving that little bit closer to commencing what I know will be a very rewarding and exciting career in nursing.
Stevie-Jade Beeby has just completed her diploma in adult nursing at De Montfort University