Rewind back to May 21st. I woke up to loads of messages telling me to check placement allocations as they had been uploaded. I went on to find I had been allocated a ward in a community hospital as my hub placement for year one. This means I will return here three times throughout the year around spoke placements and university. I did a google search of the ward and found out it was an elderly rehab ward. My first feeling was disappointment. I bank in a residential care home and thought it was going to be exactly like work, I had wanted something really different and interesting.
Everyone was excited for their placements and I was feeling deflated. I had already formed an idea in my mind that it would be boring and that I wouldn’t be able to learn much. The week before I was due to start, nerves were building and I was worrying that I wouldn’t know anything and that I would just be in the way all the time. I visited the ward and a third year student nurse showed me round. She was lovely and answered all my questions. She really put me at ease about starting the following Monday. I felt more excited about starting after I’d been so I would definitely recommend visiting your placement area before starting. Already knowing the drive and where I would park took some of the worries away as well.
I arrived on the Monday morning and went into handover. The handover sheets have everything about the patient on, including past medical history which I found really useful. The sheets have lots of abbreviations on so I wrote them all down and went through them with my mentor so I knew what they meant ready for the next days handover. I was introduced to everyone and all the staff seemed friendly. I was on shift with one of my mentors and the third year student who had shown me round the week before. She was on her management placement and she really helped me get settled into the routine of the ward in my first week. She was always willing to answer questions and allowed me to ‘get stuck in’ pretty much straight away. I spent the first day getting to know the ward routine and spending time with the patients.
Over the first week, I completed my initial interview with my mentor and we discussed what I would like to learn whilst I was there. I decided that I would like to improve my manual blood pressure taking, my placement area is perfect for that as they only take manual blood pressures. My confidence in taking manual blood pressures has increased already. At first I was worried the patients wouldn’t want a student doing it but they have all been more than willing to let me.
I am in my second week and I have already learnt so much! I have learnt how to fill out admittance and discharge paperwork, completed care plans, taken bm’s, administered enoxaparin sodium injections (these are subcutaneous injections), redressed wounds, applied leg bandages, completed district nurse referrals, continence assessments and removed a female catheter. I think it’s been a big advantage already having care experience as it meant I could go straight into shadowing my mentor, instead of spending a few weeks learning personal care skills. I have still helped the HCA’s with personal care when needed but it wasn’t something I had to learn. The HCA’s on my ward are fantastic, they know so much about the patients and are really helpful. I was conscious that I was going into their working area and didn’t want to be an inconvenience to them but they have all made me feel so welcome. Don’t be scared to ask your mentor anything at all, I am constantly asking mine questions about patients and medication.
I can honestly say that my first thoughts about the ward were completely wrong. Sometimes it is slow, especially in the afternoons but if there hasn’t been anything to do with my mentor I have spent this time talking to the patients. They love telling you their stories and it’s great to see them excited when they know they are going to be discharged. It is hard to step out of the carer role from work and into the student nurse role but I think I’m getting to grips with it now. I haven’t found it boring at all and I feel like I’ve learnt lots already! Being on a quieter ward allows you more time with your mentor, more time to ask questions and longer patient interactions. I’m already looking forward to returning in October and I haven’t finished this placement block yet!
Let me know any good or bad placement experiences you have had 🙂