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When you can’t do right for doing wrong


In her first blog as child branch student editor, Danielle discusses how she learnt to use criticisms to help her develop as a nurse.

Danille Garrington-Miller

I’d like to welcome you all to the new academic year by equipping you with a tool kit specifically aimed at handling criticism, particularly on placement - an optimistic start, I know!

According to Aristotle: “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

So give yourself a pat on the back for even experiencing criticism, it means you’re out in the big bad world of career development and not cooped-up watching teleshopping.

“The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome”

Nevertheless, I feel it is ridiculously important for you all, as student nurses, and indeed people with personal lives and future careers to be armed with the knowledge that:

Constructive criticism “is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.” (Dealing with Criticism,Greg Walker)

That’s it.

But not everyone is as adept as this quote suggests at giving criticism. You know those little digs that make you want to roll your eyes? As infuriating as they are, they’re okay! Listen to them and turn them into nuggets of golden learning opportunities that will aide your progression.

Learn to pre-empt your mentors’ personal witticisms before they’re said! Keep in mind that when they are critical, your mentor is at least trying to teach and mould you, so say thank you and be gracious.

Then seethe when you get home and engage in one of your vices!

On a more serious note, if you hear criticism that is definitely not constructive on a regular basis, run to your university support as fast as those high-waisted nursing trousers will allow.

“You are a student nurse, not an emotional punching bag!”

Constructive criticism is never personal. Do not allow yourself to be bullied or personally attacked with hostility, no matter what stage of your training you’re in.

You are a student nurse, not an emotional punching bag! 

And I now whatthat feels like. I endured a horrific placement where I would be criticised, change my practice or behaviour only to then be criticised again.

Being a student nurse is extremely tiring and I suspect this is partially because you are being constantly judged by mentors, the multidisciplinary team, patients and their parents or guardians. You are bending over backwards trying to gain mass approval.

So don’t ever lose yourself in negative, unconstructive criticisms and ghastly comments. If it really hurts, chances are the criticism was not coming from a good place.

“If it really hurts, chances are the criticism was not coming from a good place”

What got me through was the fact that I know who I am.

Constantine Jefferson (Character in the book/ film ‘The Help’) states: “Every day you’re not dead in the ground, when you wake up in the morning, you’re gonna have to make some decisions. Got to ask yourself this question: ‘Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?’

Well no, I was not and neither should you. Because when you know who you are, slander does not stick. If you know in your heart you are full of compassion, you want to learn, serve and develop then you are perfect as a nurse.

Are you bubbly or quiet? Speedy and multifaceted or a tick-list, task orientated type of nurse? Perhaps you are like me and a mix of all these personalities depending on the circumstance?

“Whatever your personality or style, you are capable of being an excellent nurse”

Whatever your personality or style, you are capable of being an excellent nurse; you wouldn’t even be on this course if this wasn’t the case.

My story came full circle. When visiting a previous mentor for some assistance I asked if she remembered who I was as she’d likely seen hundreds of students since me!

“Of course,” she said. “Every time I saw you, you had the most wonderful smile on your face”.

And that is who I am.

Peace and Love,


Danielle Garrington-Miller is Student Nursing Times’ child branch editor for 2015/16


Readers' comments (3)

  • Thanks so much Danielle, I needed to read this today xx

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  • Absolutely love this Danielle! The way you write is interesting and I can tell it takes time. Now I've read this I won't forget it easily. Thank you for giving me something to remember xx

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  • Thank you both for your kind feedback, I'm glad I've made a positive impact on your days!
    Always remember you are enough :)

    Peace and love

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