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Placement Survival Guide

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With placement one of the key reasons for student nurse anxiety, Sebastian has written a survival guide that will prepare you for your first day in no time.

Thinking back to when I was just starting out on my nursing course, one of the things I worried most about was my first day on placement.

Did I have the right pens, was everyone going to hate me and what if I fainted at the sight of blood? It was these thoughts and quite a few others that inspired me to write this placement survival guide a year down the line.  

  • First things first, before you even get to placement make sure that you eat. Breaks, while they exist are few and far between and you never know when they are coming so make sure you’ve eaten beforehand!
  • Shoes! I can guarantee that you should probably listen to your mum on this one. You are going to walk hundreds of miles in these shoes so you should spend some money on them. Get something that you would have dreaded wearing to school and they’ll do just fine! Also make sure they don’t have patterns on them or it’ll become difficult when you have to clean the vomit off them later.
  • Get yourself a mini address book; this will quickly become a lifeline as it is a great place to store door codes, doctors’ bleeps and lots of other bits of useful information. Plus the A-Z part means you can actually find things later on!
  • Talk to patients. As a student you’re one of the few people on the ward with enough time to really get to know your patient. Who knows, you could find out something that improves their treatment! It’s also a great way to learn about conditions, rather than scouring through text books as your patient is actually living with the condition.
  • Feeling down about something? Talk to someone, whether it’s a friend, personal tutor or mentor, one of them will be able to help! The old saying “a problem shared, is a problem halved” really is true!
  • Will I need pens? Yes! You will definitely need pens, bring lots and guard them with your life, as they will inevitably “disappear”. While on the subject of pens, do not I repeat do not write on your hands! My ears are still ringing from the time I made this mistake! I’m sure this will be drummed into you over the next year but I’m going to tell you any way “if you didn’t write it down it didn’t happen”.
  • Que-Cards. These are great for writing down acceptable parameters for patient observations. I still have mine to this day. They can easily be hung from a lanyard and if you don’t mind spending some money you can get plastic ones too.
  • A fob watch - available in every colour under the sun and has countless uses on the ward - get one! 

Above all enjoy it, you are about to embark on the most incredible year of your life so far! There will be long hours, essays, vomit and tears, but I can guarantee there will be even more smiles! 

Sebastian Meighan-Davies is in second year studying children’s nursing at Keele University

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