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'We're on placement to learn, not just to make up the numbers'

  • Comments (5)

For some student nurses, heading into practice for the first time can be a daunting experience with their head swimming with expectations and questions. You may be experiencing the work place for the first time and might be unsure about what’s expected of you.

Fundamentally we are students and must use the time we have in placement to learn about the process of your placement and to achieve your learning goals as defined by your University.

You are not a member of their staff and as such are not there to make up their numbers.

With that said, that shouldn’t be a line you bleat out on command as an instinctual reaction to being asked to do something.

Having such an attitude towards your placement area will not endear them to you and you won’t create good relationships. Besides, getting involved with the daily running of your placement area is how you gain the basic and foundational skills that will help to form you into a competent nurse as your progress through your training.

There is a way you can carry out the daily routine while still achieving what you need to academically. More often than not you’ll find it’s the people doing these routine tasks that have the most contact with the patients or service users.

It is important to know what is expected of you. Resist the temptation to think that any job is beneath you and use your time wisely. Everyday should give you another opportunity to learn something. 

In answer to the question in the title; am I just a pair of hands? No, you’re so much more. 

  • Comments (5)

Readers' comments (5)

  • Anonymous

    I could not agree more with this article, particularly the paragraph regarding the staff carrying out routine tasks. Never underestimate the knowledge of the Nursing Assistants as well as RNs!

    That said, I have also been on a placement and heard the RN use the phrase "Can you go and make me a cup of tea? After all, you're the student, so it's your job". On occasion, it encourages a good working relationship to do small things like that for staff (provided everyone's getting a turn!) and five minutes in the kitchen is a nice bit of respite in an exceptionally busy ward! However, there's no need to let yourself be taken advantage of while you're learning.

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  • eileen shepherd

    This is a great blog Adam. I wonder what clinical skills you worry about most on placements and whether staff have time to supervise practice? It seems the time factor is an issue with providing supervision.

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  • Anonymous

    I agree with the article in the most part, but there are mentors out there who try and avoid student appointed to them. I am a 3rd year student and have had a variety of placements some good and some bad and my conclusion is that some people are able to teach and some just shouldn't attempt it. It seems that there are nurses who just like to be in authority and it's these nurses who teach student nothing. They are unapproachable and make the whole experience difficult.

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  • Anonymous

    I agree in part with Adam, only in reallity it never works. Also to be able to do routine tasks on the ward shows willingness and developes good relationship with staff.After all you may one day require employment on said ward. However you should not be used as a lacky for some lazy nurse. Always challenge when appropiate.

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  • Adam Roxby

    Hello everyone
    So it's that time again when I have the pleasure of responding to some of the comments made.
    Anonymous – I hardly ever concerned when the nurses are too busy to deal with me like a place with one of the healthcare assistants. Most of the time I have found them to be very knowledgeable and willing to pass on that knowledge.
    I have made your cup of tea for the nurses but I have to confess that is mainly because I want to ingratiate myself with the powers that be. I've also found that the best way to catch a brief period of respite and to seem willing to help is to offer to take specimens to pathology or pickup deliveries from the pharmacy. Nice little tip for you.

    Eileen - the things I'd probably worry about most of the procedures that could cause pain or discomfort. Many students who are around patients can be quite timid at the best of times so to be asked to carry out something which will induce discomfort puts added pressure on students. Obviously it's something we will have to do and it is a part of nursing, it’s just breaking past that barrier that can be a hard thing.
    I'm glad you like the article

    Anonymous – I know how you feel, while I have been lucky in that my mentors really enjoy students I have come into contact with nurses who would prefer not to have the burden all responsibility. I suppose it is more luck than anything else with regards to what kind of nurse you get appointed to.

    Anonymous – of course you are right, I'm not suggesting that you should take every request as an opportunity for you to search your independence. The other thing to consider is that in a hospital setting at least, news travels fast and if you start to get a reputation as a boisterous and fiercely defensive student then that might not help you at your future placements or as you said when it comes to getting a job.
    I agree that it is a careful balance between knowing when it is appropriate to question what has been asked of you.

    Thanks all the comments so far and I look forward to this being a another point of discussion for students and professionals alike.

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