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Your placement learning objectives decoded

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At first glance, your placement documentation can be daunting. We’ve pulled apart the most commonly used wording to help you understand exactly what you’re being asked to do.

You’ve already got an essay to do, need to revise for an exam and fit four shifts a week in placement around lectures at uni. Learning objectives can easily slip down your priority list.

They really do help you to make sense of what you’ve learnt and act as an ongoing record of what you’ve gained from your placement.

They can also help you identify what other skills you can learn. And you can plan how you’re going to complete each outcome with your mentor and proactively go about achieving them.

That said, they can be daunting. But rest assured, is here to help!

What do they mean?

Demonstrate and apply an understanding of professional regulation.”

  • Firstly let’s take the word “demonstrate”. Roughly translated they are saying “tell us how and when you’ve done this”. So give examples! Think about what professional regulation applies to your current placement and how have you adhered to it.

Identify the roles and contributions of the members of the health and social care team.”

  • This starts with “identify” so they want you to actually say what their roles and contributions are. Have a look around – do you know what everyone does? How does their role affect yours? This is your opportunity to find out.

Collaborate effectively with members of the multidisciplinary team, demonstrating understanding of the roles and contributions of others.”

  • Believe it or not, this is different from the above. This outcome asks you to “collaborate”. In other words, your university wants you to liaise with other services. Have a think about when you’ve involved other professionals. Who? How did you do it? What information did you need to give them?

Contribute to the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of nursing care under the supervision of registered practitioners.”

  • This outcome encourages you to “contribute”. They want you to actively do this, not just know about it. Pick one thing you can do with your mentor (let’s not forget this outcome wants you to be supervised) and follow it through. What you actually do will vary depending on your placement area.

Under supervision, communicate effectively with patients and clients to assess their ongoing healthcare needs and monitor and report any problems with this aspect of care.”

  • This outcome is split in to two parts. “Communicate effectively” appears straightforward but try to think how you do this in practice. Do you use any assessment tools? What sort of language do you use? What problems have you encountered trying to speak to patients?
  • “Monitor and report any problems” – have you felt that you are unable to understand a patient? Or are they having problems understanding you? Who will you speak to for help?

Apply an understanding of legal and ethical frameworks in practice.”

  • “Apply an understanding” indicates that not only do you need to be familiar with these frameworks but also use them in your practice. Relax. Chances are you use them without even thinking. The majority are straightforward and common sense.
  • Have a look at NICE guidelines relating to your area and make sure you are familiar with them:

Create and utilise opportunities to promote the health and well-being of patients/clients/groups.”

  • This outcome is asking you to use your initiative. Health promotion is a big part of your role as a nurse. You are not expected to start running an evening class on healthy living but have a look at what specific problems your client group have. What advice can you give? How can you help without taking away independence?

Identify and apply appropriate research evidence to inform clinical practice in a variety of settings and with a range of patients/clients.”

  • This outcome is important for making sense of all the information you learn in university and during essay writing. What have you read that applies to what you’re doing in placement? Do you know why certain techniques are used? What is the evidence base?
  • Have a look at some relevant journals that are of interest to you. This outcome doesn’t need a full literature review but referring to papers will help you clarify your practice.
  • Have a look at the Student Nursing Times ‘perfecting your practice series’ to give you some ideas.

Recognise the importance of purposeful involvement of patients/clients and carers in the delivery of care; demonstrate awareness of the role of advocacy, user and carer groups”

  • As a nurse, your job is not just to look after patients but to provide a service to carers as well. Why are they important? How can you help them to help your patient?
  • This outcome asks you to “recognise” and “demonstrate awareness” so is something you could have a chat to the rest of the nursing team about. Find out if there are any user groups and if you can go along to them. How else are carers supported in your placement area?

Utilise a recognised framework, tools, scales, etc., demonstrate skill in client-centred assessment.”

  • If you’re not sure what frameworks are being used in your placement area – Ask! How are patients assessed? Which assessments have you been part of? Do they use any tools or scales?

Used properly, your learning outcomes are a tool for promoting active learning. If you feel you are not getting enough out of your placement you can use them to highlight with your mentor what else you could be doing.

The main purpose of learning outcomes is not to double your workload, believe it or not, but to help you make sense of the new skills you learn every day.

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