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'My placement has seen me unsupported and utterly uninspired'


Can you advise this student nurse?

“Hi. I’m not enjoying my placement at all.

“I have spent zero time with my mentor who doesn’t seem interested in me.

“I’ve been washing, dressing and toileting, which I am aware is part of the job. However, the buzzers constantly go off and a lot of staff just stand around the nursing station leaving me to answer them all.

“We are always short staffed and although we are supernumerary I am being treated as just a pair of hands.

“I just can’t face it going in.”

Please use the comments section below to share your advice

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Readers' comments (10)

  • Welcome to life as a student nurse, this is a very common experience for me and other students I talk to.

    Most of your time will be spent as a care assistant, some of the care assistants will display a contempt of students, making false assumptions that we think we are too uppity to do the basics of care....despite students sometimes being the only ones on the ward willing to answer the bells and toilet the patients while others stand around playing candy crush (yes that has happend to me). They forget some of us have left our jobs as care assistants to do our nurse training.

    Gaining your competencies will be hit and miss, your experience on placement entirely depends on how interested your mentor is in you, why people are made to be mentors when they don't want to I really don't know, can anyone tell me? genuine question.

    Despite what I have said, don't let it put you off, each placement will be different, I have an excellent mentor at the moment, who knows my name (how sad is it to be pleased about that) and genuinely seems to care about my development, you will get this too and it will make all the difference. Hang in there,but remember students are counted in the numbers regardless of what is supposed to happen.

    I want to be a nurse but I don't want to work in a hospital, grin and bear it, qualify, get some experience and aim to get out of the ward, thats what most people seem to be doing from what I am observing.

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  • what sort of supervision are mentors getting? it sounds totally ineffective when one reads here of so many poor ones. one might even conclude it is not existent but everyone in the professions needs a combination of peer review, supervision and regular feedback and formal appraisals and support.

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  • My advise would be 'don't give up!'. I had a placement that sounds very similar to what you have described and unfortunately a lot of fellow students had also experienced at least one placement like that. I agree with the comment "grin and bear it, qualify, get some experience". I actually felt sick going in to that placement every day but I made myself get through it. My other placements were really good I enjoyed them all and learned so much from the experience. I have just qualified and it is such a good feeling of achievement. It was a emotional journey to get here and it isn't easy but I wouldn't chose to do anything else. And even my worst placement has made me want to become a mentor myself and make sure that none of the students I come across are made to feel like I did.
    Also, if the staff don't appreciate how hard your working and answering the bells I know the people you care for will be appreciating everything you do to care for them.

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  • Trust me all student nurses have been there!

    It's difficult, just grin & bear it - as the above poster says, get some experience & keep your head held high. Always appear enthusiastic. If you are willing and you receive no negative feedback then chances are you'll meet your competencies!

    It can be hard in some areas - I've been on busy wards where if I'm in the office getting to grips with something new & a call bell goes off, I'll look up at the screen to see which bed it is & every staff member's eyes are already on me! How do you be firm when answering bells gets in the way of your development? Sometimes it's difficult to be forward about your learning needs when your mentor seems to palm you off at every opportunity.

    Obviously there's only so much outreach we can do, but it's a good opportunity to get other comments in your PAD on your skills and strengths, and meet some competencies. I tend to find if they only have you for a limited period you get their full attention!

    I went to another ward & got a glowing report from every staff member. Just the lift I needed after 12 weeks on my main ward; people form opinions, just or unjust... that's nursing!

    It's not all negative and you will meet some really inspiring people along the way. Take control of your learning needs and they will admire you for that. Good luck!

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  • The actual work aspect is one thing. Think about what you are learning and how you are communicating with the patients and making them feel batter. Try to turn all experiences into positives.
    However from the point of view of not working with your mentor this is very important. Is there another member of staff you could approach or do you have an associate mentor? There should be someone who oversees the student experience you could approach. If not contact the PEF, the link lecturer or have a chat with your personal tutor.

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  • What I wonder from reading this, is how is anyone supposed to get valid clinical hours before graduation, if all they are doing in their placement is functioning as a care assistant? It would be stupid indeed to spend 2-4 years in nursing school and have placements teach nothing except how to toilet, dress and feed, yes? This seems to be rather an institutional mindset and deeply ingrained... someone needs to monitor the supposed mentors!

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  • RJR | 8-Feb-2015 8:28 pm

    'Trust me all student nurses have been there!'

    agree and is comforting to others that they are not alone but it is not a reason to let students continue 'to go there'. It is detrimental and destructive to valuable training time as well as being demeaning, demoralising and demotivating for any student nurse and could also be a cause for drop out or leaving the profession at the end of training.

    Is it stress that causes poor behaviour of other staff and even nurses in a supposedly 'caring' environment? it must be found out, rooted out and stamped our so that all students are offered appropriate learning environments with adequately trained and appropriately supervised trainers and mentors! less is letting not only the students down but also patients, the whole team, employers and the reputation of the organisation.

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  • keep going do not despair, a lot of us have been in the same situation as you.My first placement for anyone that can remember was at Scotton Banks in Harrogate. I constantly had to wonder what I was doing on a geriatric ward like you, feeding, dressing and removing faeces from the wall in some rooms.but I kept going.keep yopour head down and work. hopefully your next placement will have a preceptor that will engage with you and support your learning.

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  • Although many of the comments of this being 'normal' are familiar, it is not right. I am a Tutor and have been a mentor, mentors should work with their student at least 40% of the time - AT LEAST 40%. whilst valid points are made in that placements lie this hone your communication skills being treated in this was is NOT right. if you do not feel comfortable mentioning it on placement speak to your tutors, placements go through education audits and mentor have to be on a register and both of these things should be taken seriously by an area, if they're not the question begs as to whether or not they should have students. Students are the future and I would hate you all to think that this is ok, if you can't fix it for yourself, remember others will follow you into the same situation and I'm sure none of you would want that?

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  • 2 years on from this original post and I find myself in the exact same position. Stuck, lost and frightened of contacting university for support.... awful situation to be in it really is.

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