Nursing students are in the lucky position to be able to arrange a negotiated placement.
This period in a student’s training (in the third year) allows an almost unlimited possibility to experience something truly unique.
Some students take as an opportunity to travel abroad and experienced nursing in another country. Some students use this time to work in an area of nursing that they hope to gain employment in after they qualify. Some use this time to get a placement location a bit closer to home. Whatever the reasons or the motivations behind your choices, I have a few tips that will hopefully make sure you are as prepared as possible.
Be prompt: the places that you are going will more than likely have their own allocation of students and to be accepted at your chosen location they must be able to properly accommodate you. This means that it really does help if you can make your decisions and contact your preferred location in a timely manner.
Be personal: I would assume that you are choosing these locations because it is an area where you will hopefully get a job. Even if that’s not the case, you are getting close to the time when you will be having interviews and the world of nursing is very small and news travels fast. That means a good impression with these placement locations could help you when it comes to having your interviews for employment. I never like sending e-mails at the best of times so my advice would be to contact the ward (or wherever you have chosen) and ask to speak to the person in charge to arrange your placement. If you have the time, I would even visit the location in person and introduce yourself. This personal approach not only shows a level of professionalism but it also shows that you are eager to spend time there, which does nothing but help your cause.
Check the rules: this could be the most important piece of advice. Up until this point you have been used to being allocated placements. The hassle and the administrative process of assigning students to areas where they will learn and develop has been taken out of your hands. Now the choice is all yours it is important to understand what rules and conditions are associated with your own universities negotiated placement period. Check that the location that you want to visit is allowed by your university. For example, my university won’t allow any student to have a negotiated placement in a community setting. Another regulation that my university has is that the first choice can be anywhere, but the second choice must be somewhere in my local area.
Once you have digested all of the conditions it is an imperative that you have your paperwork filled out and submitted on time which brings me to my final word on the subject. Don’t assume that if you fail to organise a placement yourself that the university will have some backup. If I fail to sort out my placement for the four weeks in January 2013 then those four weeks will be marked as an authorised absence and, given that the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requires you to spend a certain amount of time in practice in order to qualify, this could have real consequences for your nursing course.
I don’t want to end things on a dour note - your negotiated placement will be a time of excitement. There are so many opportunities and experiences that you can choose from but I hope it becomes a highlight of your training. I was lucky enough to be accepted at Moorfields Eye Hospital as my first placement. Let me know where you are going, or where you have been in the comments section.