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The first time: recognising your limits


As a student you’ll need to be aware of what you can and can’t do, when you need supervision and when you need to ask for help …

Do …

Take notice of your own health

If you ever feel that your health is affecting your performance during your placement you need to let your supervisor know and seek help from a qualified healthcare professional.

Take feedback on board

Your mentor should be providing you with feedback all the time about the quality of your work. This will help you to realise what you need to concentrate on, where you need to put more work in and when you might need help.

Seek supervision

While on placement you should be working under the supervision of a qualified professional, if you feel that this is lacking – ask.

Let patients know that you’re a student

Patients have the right to request care from a registered professional so you need to ask if they’re happy with you providing their care.

Don’t …

Go it solo

You’re part of a team, so make the most of it. You can learn a lot from your peers and colleagues so take time to share the experience. It’s part of the NMC code of conduct to work cooperatively with your team members and respect their skills and expertise. Listen, watch and learn a lot.

Risk it

Let your mentor or tutor know straight away if you believe that you’re at risk of putting a patient at risk of harm. It’s not shameful to ask for help.

Miss your chance

Your placement is the perfect opportunity to get involved wherever you can. It’s a feast of learning opportunities.  Just because you don’t feel confident yet, doesn’t mean you can’t learn by watching and trying.

Ignore criticism

If a patient indicates that they are unhappy with their treatment you need to seek help from your mentor or tutor.  


Readers' comments (6)

  • Adam Roxby

    If students follow this guide then they won't go far wrong.

    What do you all think? What other things should be included in a students 'Do's' and 'Dont's'? Let me know.

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  • I agree with all of the above. As a stuident nurse with 4 yrs HCA experience, the best feedback I got from my first placement was that I needed to be more careful in making sure I didn't overstep my boundaries.

    Another "do": actively seek out learning opportunities and ask your mentor if you can attend/observe anything which will facilitate your learning.

    Dont: complain that you are being "used as a HCA". Althought we are, in theory, supernumary and shouldn't be counted in the staffing, the reality is that on a busy ward we can - at times - be a helpful pair of hands. And the important thing to remember (and it will make you a better nurse when you qualify) is that there is no such thing as "HCA work". Nurses can and should do everything that HCAs do, plus their additional responsibilities as a registered practitioner. It's true that often an RN's duties take him or her away from the bedside, and so the HCAs perform the bulk of basic care, but it is all part of a nurse's job, and students should see it as an important part of their learning experience.

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  • Little One

    I diasagree slightly Vez and think that Students should discuss with their mentors if they feel they are being used as HCAs. I completed a placement in February and for the entire 10 weeks my learning opportunities were put on the back burner as I was used repeatedly as a health care assistant, I was half way through second year and I wasn't allowed to use equipment (hoists etc), wasn't allowed to take observations on my own and wasn't allowed to assist with washing and dressing a patient who had suffered a stroke because it was 'too complex' for me. I had sessions with OTs, Physios and Dieticians interrupted to make beds and serve dinners and whilst I appreciate it is important, these were scheduled learning times for my assignment and outcomes, which was also important.

    I especially agree with 'Don't Risk It' but again, have had bad experiences of saying "No I'm not qualified to do this ".

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  • Marc Evans

    Very good tips here!

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  • I actually just reported to my link tutor of being used as a HCA in my first placement. She advised ' we should not delay to report this if we feel like treated as one, in our placement' because we have so much thing to learn in so little time at our placement and we must be wasted time by doing HCAs work.x

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  • Price92

    Another Do; I'm a 2nd year Mental Health Student Nurse, and I always work under supervision of my mentor and always clarify what task/intervention I have been asked to undertake and ask if I'm allowed to carry this out.

    And last off all, if unsure about something regarding limitations, safeguarding etc ASK, don't keep it to yourself seek further advice or support.

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