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Realising your potential as a student nurse

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Why do student nurses underestimate the positive impact of their work and thus undermine their performance? Student nurse Danielle reflects on this self-defeating habit



Danielle Hunt

Recently, it’s been brought to my attention that as student nurses, we do not see our full potential or the positive influence we have on patients, families and even other members of staff. After communicating with fellow student nurses, I decided to use the Gibbs reflective cycle and found that indeed even I do the same and can class myself as “my own worst enemy”. 

Despite all the positive feedback we receive as students from our clinical placement, patients, families and university staff, we decide to focus on the negatives, and rather than seeing these as areas for improvement and constructive feedback we start questioning ourselves. Consequently, this sets us back and knocks us down and ultimately affects our confidence and performance as a nurse. I asked myself, how can we change this?

It is important to note that as student nurses, we are imperative to a multidisciplinary team and to provide the utmost support and comfort to patients and families. After one shift, unfortunately, I fell into the trap of doubting myself and reflecting on all the things I could improve on. Whilst this is essential to continue growing as a student nurse, I did not comprehend the positive impact I had on the patient’s family by just providing a listening ear. 

Thereafter, I decided to communicate my concerns with a newly-qualified staff nurse who also voiced that she did not realise her full potential when she was a student. Thus, it was evident that we overlook and push the positive aspects of our performance to one side. Even though it is important to reflect and identify areas for improvement, it is just as crucial to focus on what you did well. 

The outcome drawn from this reflection was that all student nurses should make an effort to look at the positive aspects of a clinical shift, a day at university, an exam or an assignment. Moreover, when reflecting on any situation, think of three positive points and one area which you think has room for improvement. These could be as small as holding a patient’s hand to having the confidence to question practice. After identifying an area for improvement, an action plan should be put into place to excel in this area. 

To conclude, remember you are a student nurse and a fantastic one at that. You bring smiles to families and support them in their time of need. If that doesn’t deserve recognition, then what does? Remember, your work as a student nurse matters. Never doubt your achievements and always chase your dreams. Do not act as your own personal barrier to achieving your best.

Danielle Hunt is currently in her third year studying child nursing at Birmingham City University


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