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‘Since when did being pushy become a nursing skill?’


Do you have any advice for this student nurse?

“I’m one of SIX student nurses on my placement. Normally we plan our shifts so we’re not all on at once but we all have uni on the same days and none of us want to work weekends so sometimes 3 or 4 of us are on shift.

“This means that I often miss out on learning opportunities because only one of us can give an injection, or join in handover, for example.

“I’m not really one to put myself forward so I’ve been missing out and mentioned to my mentor that I’m not managing to achieve my objectives.

“She genuinely rolled her eyes, told me it was my own fault and that ‘it’s a dog eat dog world’ – she even suggested that if I’m not assertive then maybe I’m not cut out for acute nursing.

“Please someone tell me she’s wrong?”

Emma, London


Please use the comments section below to share your advice

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Readers' comments (6)

  • Rachael Starkey

    Well, she's right and wrong at the same time..... but there's a difference between being 'assertive' and being 'pushy'. You do need to get your objectives met and put yourself in situations where you will learn, but you don't necessarily need to stamp your feet and have a fight to do so. Can you talk to the other students about it? If you all want to work the same days then maybe you could come to an arrangement whereby you rotate the chances to be involved in things. Or agree to have a day each where everything exciting that happens is yours.
    failing that, then listen carefully at morning handover and figure out what might be happening today- talk to your mentor then and tell her what you'd like to be involved in, and figure out together how you can be. Don't leave it until the chance comes up and someone else takes it.
    also, just as an aside- it's worth working some weekend shifts if you can, the atmosphere is usually very different, and I often gind my mentors are more relaxed and more open to teaching me things.
    Don't be worrying that you need to be a bulldog to be a nurse though! It's a caring profession, and it's exhausting and hard and amazing- everyone needs to protect themselves from the hard and some people do that by developing a rock iron outer skin and thinking of themselves as 'assertive'. Other people drink a lot of wine, or take up running, or playing the flute, or whatever. She's right that you need to figure out how to get what you need from your career, but it's up to you what you need and how you get it.

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  • Firstly i would say not every nurse is cut out for acute nursing i know in not. I personally feel its part of being a mentor to ensure the student has good experience and meets their objectives.
    i feel the key is to be enthusiastic but not pushy be assertive but not ignorant. When there's so many students on placement everyone is fighting for the chance and opportunity of experiences but you will get them in your training.i hated one placement and just kept my head down and didn't meet any objectives but the next one made up for it. Use bad experiences to reflect and learn from to try and improve and understand why they happened and how things could have gone better .... Turn bad into good experiences.

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  • Being pushy is not a nursing skill but being assertive is and there is a big difference between the two. As already suggested work some weekends as the wards aren't always as busy as during the week. This should also give you some time with your mentor when you can discuss in more depth some of the objectives you don't feel you are meeting and how you can go about meeting them. You cannot blame other students or mentors for you not meeting your outcomes if you are being hesitant and hanging back in case you upset a fellow student by not speaking up for yourself.

    I would say that your placement should look at how they allocate shifts to students. Students need to cover the full 24/7 shifts. If staff in the placement area work weekends then students should. Not every weekend of course but you should do some over the course of your placement.

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  • Do some nights and weekends, you learn loads on nights and weekends are good too cos it's less busy so nurses have more time to teach you.

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  • Hello,
    It is also important for you yo know that many mentors want the best for you and they also learn from you. Let your passion for nursing shine through your reserved nature, as it is very infectious and a tonic to all who want the very best for patients and their families

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  • Majority of placements will only allow 1 or 2 student on at one time so that you are able to achieve your competencies and gain as much from your placement as possible. As for the weekends - you are expected to experience ALL shift patterns as they all differ in one way or another which will include weekends/nights/long days. So you and the other ST/N's should sit down and work out who will work which days and when. I think putting yourself forward will come in time, especially if this is the first time you've worked in the Health Care field before. If you have a placement rep at University and at you placement, it may be worth chatting to them too. Work through your competencies and see what tasks you can be doing to achieve them.

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