It is the first day of your nursing placement. You are not sure whether the feeling in your stomach is overwhelming excitement or nausea from a sleepless night of anxiety, and the constant worries and ‘what ifs’ are only making it worse.
“What if I don’t get on with my mentor?”
“What if I don’t know the answer to a question?”
“What if I do something wrong?”
I get it. I have been there. But you should also remember that so has your mentor. No one is expecting you to be able to waltz onto the ward knowing all there is to know about bronchiolitis or how to aspirate a nasogastric tube. But what they are expecting you to know is that you are on this placement to learn.
”So make the most of the experience and every opportunity you are offered to learn new skills”
So make the most of the experience and every opportunity you are offered to learn new skills, Obviously check what you are and aren’t allowed to do under your university guidelines first. However, do not be afraid to tell your mentor if you are not comfortable doing something. They will understand and will give you as much support as you need.
For the first few weeks everything you do will be under the supervision of your mentor so never be afraid to ask for help. One rule you should always abide by is to never do anything that you have not practiced or that your mentor has not demonstrated before. This is when accidents happen. So remember, if you are not sure, always ask for help.
”On your first few shifts in particular you will feel like you are following your mentor everywhere - even to the loo”
On your first few shifts in particular you will feel like you are following your mentor everywhere - to the patients’ beds, to the drugs room, even (if you are not careful) to the loo! You may feel rather dependent for a while and sometimes an annoyance to your mentor, but know this is completely normal.
Like any new job, you have to shadow a member of staff in order to see how everything works. When you have proved that you are competent enough to do certain tasks on your own, such as taking observations, you will have more independence on the ward. You may find that on especially busy days you are able to use your skills to help the other nurses. Never feel at a loose end because there is always something you can do.
”Every nurse has to start at the beginning so do not feel that you are alone”
Now, I hope I have helped settle some of your nerves and given you the confidence to jump in at the deep end; I promise it will not feel deep for long.
Every nurse has to start at the beginning so do not feel that you are alone.
Remember that it is okay to do something wrong when you are learning because that is how you become a better nurse and learn from your mistakes. Be confident and trust that you can do it.
The best of luck to you on your first day. You will be great.
Kristen Paskins is a current student nurse