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Advice and guidance for your first nursing placement from a second year student

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After completing my first year as a mental health nursing student, I’ve realised how far I’ve come over the past year and want to share what I’ve learnt with new student nurses.

When you’re first starting out in your nurse training, everything is new and scary. On your first day, you’re late to lectures because you can’t find the room or you don’t know who to talk to, but sit next to different people and speak to anyone.

danielle goldthorpe

danielle goldthorpe

Danielle Goldthorpe

Everyone is feeling the same and it doesn’t get any easier when you start working on your placement.

Sometimes placements are fun as every day you learn something new and meet lots of different people. But sometimes they’re hard when you’d rather be with your family and friends.

”Every day you learn something new and meet lots of different people”

Feeling nervous when starting your placement is natural. Therefore, my first bit of advice is to remember that you can do this.

When you find out where your placement is the first thing to do is to read the guide about the placement area.  This will reassure you about the job roles in the team you will be working with and what possible insight visits you can arrange. An insight visit is something students arrange themselves to get an insight into the working of a department, such as by following the occupational therapist for a day or working for a day in a different department. Arrange insight visits linked to your placement area, as this will give you a chance to see different areas for a day or few days and prepare you for your placement.

”Arrange insight visits linked to your placement area”

To ensure nothing untoward happens on the first day of placement, ring the placement area a few weeks ahead to make sure they know you’re coming. This will also give you a change to ask questions, such as about the uniform or what time they’d like you to start.

This is also a good time to ask who you will meet on your first day, where you should meet the concerned person and who will be your mentor throughout your placement.

Take a packed lunch on your first day to avoid the hassle of looking for a shop or canteen. Always take your breaks and ask about it if you’re unsure. This is also a great opportunity to chat with members of staff to help you bond!

”Most important of all, wear comfortable shoes and carry a notepad”

To make yourself feel at home bring a personal item such as your own mug. Some placement areas allow you to contribute to a tea fund and others allow you to bring your own tea and coffee. 

Most important of all, wear comfortable shoes and carry a notepad.

During your placement, don’t hesitate to ask a question because there are no silly questions.

My last piece of advice is get involved with anything and everything and talk to everyone because there are always learning opportunities. Placement is hard work but rewarding.

I wish you the best of luck on your nursing journey!

Danielle Goldthorpe is in her second year studying mental health nursing at University of Nottingham

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