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Preparing your skills for placement


First ward placement? Unsure what to expect? Here’s a quick guide to some of the learning opportunities that may be available to you when you set foot on the ward

Aside from the knowledge you’ll gain on placement, they’ll also be certain skills you can only learn from doing.

It will not be possible to pick up everything you need to know as a nurse from one placement, but there will be something you can gain from each one.

So, if you find yourself stuck for something to do, see if anyone is available to give you a quick lesson in any of these.

Remember, nothing impresses a mentor like enthusiasm.

Physical observations

Patient interaction

Diabetes monitoring and management




Wound care

Catheter care

Personal care

Assessing mental state

Ward rounds

Most services are used to students ringing up and asking to spend a day with them. If there is something you particularly want to do that you can’t where you are, have a look about where might be able to offer you the opportunity.

This will increase your exposure to different areas of nursing and help you to achieve all your learning outcomes.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Do not forget to ask your mentor if they have a recognised mentor qualification and they have completed their annual mentor update. Your future registration could be at risk if out of date or unqualified mentors sign your practice assessment docuaments. If you find this question difficult to ask check your mentors status with your practice placamant unit or Practice Placement Faclitator.
    Jerry Masterson, Practice Placement Facilitator.

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  • nadine woogara

    Thanks Jerry, that's really useful advice. If you could email me on I have some more questions for you!


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  • I would also like to add that when you're a student on your first placement don't put too much pressure on yourself. Its the very first step in your learning, don't expect to learn everything you need to know. Take it steady and don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself.

    Also, utilise the multi disciplinary team. We have a great doctor on my ward who loves teaching students. Weekly he will ask us staff nurses if there is anything students need signing in their books or anything that interests them that he can help with. Spending time with the MDT is a quick way of gaining that all important liaison skill you'll so frequently need when you qualify.

    Good luck to anyone starting their first placement!

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