The mentor that changed everything

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This post does not by any means suggest that my other mentors haven’t been amazing, because they have. I have been extremely lucky that every mentor I have worked with up to now have taught me so much and have always been fantastic to work with. There is just one mentor who changed everything for me.

Rewind back to the end of year 1, to me receiving my first placement allocation for year 2 and seeing HDU/ITU. I hadn’t been on an acute ward in my training yet and I was starting my acute experiences in one of the scariest places, A&E being another one that fills me with dread.

I spent weeks panicking (a common occurrence with me as you will know if you’ve read my other blogs 😂) and worrying that I really did not know enough to be trusted with this kind of placement. I was going from year 1, in a placement that I was actually quite confident in due to previous experience to my first acute ward. I did not have chance to visit the unit before starting placement so I walked in ‘blind’. The first thing I saw was all the machines and I must have looked terrified because one of the NQNs said ‘It’s not that scary once you get started, don’t look so terrified you will be fine!’. I met my mentor and she took me into handover. From the first moment she was welcoming and kind, I instantly warmed to her and felt a little less nervous. I picked up the handover sheet and was convinced it was in another language, I didn’t understand half of the actual handover and worried that this would happen every morning.

I started my placement with 2 weeks on HDU, so the ratio of patients is 2:1. My mentor started by showing me the crash trolley and the airway trolley. We then moved onto the bedside checks and the observation charts. By lunchtime, I was feeling confident enough to record the observations myself and my mentor was happy for me to do so. The next week passed so quickly and my mentor knew so much, the knowledge she had blew me away and I remember thinking to myself that I would never know all the things that she knew. At the end of my second week, I had 2 weeks annual leave for Easter. When I returned, I was on ITU.

I asked over and over if I was doing ok, if I was where I should be and was doing everything I should be. I was doubting myself as I always do and thought I didn’t know anything. My mentor encouraged me all the time to complete skills that she knew I could do, she had faith in me and taught me things that have since come in very handy on my other placements. The day she told me I was having my own level 2 patient in ITU, I remember thinking no, no way I’m not good enough. This is not happening I will mess this up big time. And guess what? I didn’t! I felt confident in the bedside checks and the observations, she provided me with support and encouragement and actually made me believe that I can do this. The next few days passed and I became more confident with everything, using my own initiative to complete tasks that I could do. Then my mentor said I was taking care of a level 3 patient. WHAT?! No, no thank you I do not know what to do and the ventilator scares me to death 😂 Of course I wasn’t on my own I had her supervision but I was allowed to complete tasks by myself, keep track of medication times and assess changes to care based on ABGs. She pushed me to make decisions based on my own knowledge without ever making me feel ‘belittled’ if I didn’t know anything or needed to check something.

Before this placement, I had absolutely no faith in myself at all and thought I wouldn’t make it as a nurse. This mentor completely changed my way of thinking. She showed me so much support and encouragement that it was impossible to continue doubting myself. She taught me so much and I genuinely think that if I become even half the nurse she is, I will be very lucky. She constantly made sure that I was feeling comfortable and gave me every learning opportunity, involving me in ward rounds and procedures such as intubations and tracheostomy procedures. I felt welcomed from day 1 and completely fell in love with the place, which is partly due to my mentor and the faith she had in me. The feedback she gave me made me cry and I always look back on it if I’m doubting myself and feeling low. To reiterate, I can say that I’m very lucky and all my mentors have been fantastic and I’ve learnt so much from them all, but there was something different about this woman. In 6 weeks, she took me from a nervous second year student believing she would never be a nurse – to a semi-confident (only because I’ll never be fully confident!) second year knowing that she could do this and that there was a good chance that she would qualify! I now feel slightly jealous of anyone who receives that placement in the time we have left on the course 😂

Let me know any stories you have of mentors like this!

Love,

T x

Letter to my mentor – Part 1

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Will I develop enough to be signed off at the end of the year? Will I be good enough at the skills I need to be good at? What if I walk into the placement area and suddenly forget everything I have been taught at university and everything I have learnt in my previous care work experience? What if I don’t actually know what I’m meant to know? How will I know what dressings need to be used on which wounds? What if I can’t hear the Korotkoff sounds during a manual blood pressure? These are just a few of the questions running through my mind right now.

I am one week away from starting my first placement with you and I am terrified. I have been for a visit so I know the ward, where to park and where to find everything I need on the first day. This hasn’t helped to stop the nerves though. I am a worrier, I worry about every little thing and as you can imagine, I’m in bits right now!

I am a member of a few different student nurse forums across social media and I have read some stories of students not getting on with their mentor. So of course I am worrying that we won’t get on and that you will think I don’t know anything. I don’t think I will pick the routine of the ward up quick enough and already I am worrying about not passing the year even though I have only just started.

I have care experience, 7 years to be exact, and I fear this will make me come across as over-confident in my own abilities, when in fact I am not confident in myself at all. I believe that I know how to build relationships with patients and how to communicate with them, but I do not want you to think that this means I think I know it all.

I constantly worry about what happens if a patient becomes unwell and I don’t know what to do in this situation. Through the clinical skills sessions I know about NEWS, emergency buzzers and how to escalate concerns but what if a patient becomes unwell quickly and I am the only person around? Will I know what to do in that situation, will auto-pilot take over or will I freeze?

I have 16 weeks of placement here and I am concerned I won’t fit in with the team. 16 weeks is a long time if you do not feel like you fit in. I am naturally a quiet person and like to get to know people before I relax, I worry that I will come across as disinterested and not wanting to fit in when actually I am just really shy with new people.

Will you enjoy having me as a student? I wonder how I will fare compared to other students who have been on the ward, which is ridiculous because it really doesn’t matter as long as I am concentrating on my own development. Will I come across as eager to learn or annoyingly enthusiastic about everything? No one wants to come across as that student who asks too many questions (which I will learn later on is definitely not a thing, ask away!) but on the other hand I love learning and want to gain as much knowledge as I possibly can and that means tapping into your many years experience and stealing bits of your knowledge.

I want to get involved in everything, spend insight days with other members of the MDT but what if they don’t want to have a student observing their every move? I don’t want to feel like I am imposing on them and stopping them doing their job correctly.

I have given out medication for many years in the community and in a care home, but I know how clumsy I can be and I am pretty sure I will drop tablets on the floor because I feel flustered and nervous so please bear with me for the first few times whilst I am slow and getting used to the ward routine of administering medication.

Giving injections is something I haven’t had to do in my previous experience as these were always administered by community nurses. I am scared that my technique will be rubbish and that I will hurt patients, which is the last thing I want to be doing! A real human is very different to an orange/piece of plastic skin and an orange cannot scream when the needle comes near them 😂

I said that I didn’t want an elderly rehab ward as my first placement because I work in care and wanted something completely different. On the other side, I am pleased that I have been allocated somewhere that will feel familiar, where I can develop new skills whilst refining the skills I already possess. I know how to help elderly patients and have had extensive dementia training, I know this will come in handy but I also know there is plenty more to be learnt!

It’s the night before placement and I am just about to go to bed. My bag is packed and my uniform is laid out ready for the 5 am start. Let me tell you that is one part I am not looking forward to, 16 weeks of 5 am starts 😭 I have even washed my hair so you know I mean business! I worry that even with setting off 1.5 hours early that I will be late, I live an hour away and I am praying that there is no traffic so I can arrive on time.

I hope to write another letter at the end of my placement experience dispelling all these fears and describing how you have helped me to develop as a future nurse.

Love,

T x

Recommended reading for a critical care placement

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Acute and Critical Care in Adult Nursing

img_2524Part of the transforming nursing practice series, which I am a big fan of! This book contains everything you would need to know before and during a placement in a critical care area. Includes information on ABGs and  is separated into sections such as pain, respiratory distress etc making it easy to read in sections.

Oxford Handbook of Critical Care Nursing

img_2523This book is small enough to carry around in your bag and explains most procedures you are likely to encounter on a critical care placement. Includes sections on common medications used and sections on disorders affecting different systems within the body.

Critical Care Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!

img_2525This is another series of books that I am a fan of, they explain things in a way that is easy for everyone to understand – perfect for students who may not have had an acute placement before. This book includes explanations of over 100 disorders you may come across in a critical care environment. The cartoon pictures included provide a little bit of light-hearted humour as well!

Intensive Care Nursing: A Framework for Practice 

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This book is described as the ‘bible of intensive care nursing’. It may be useful to read this book when you have read one of the others or if you decide to progress into a career in critical care, however it is a fantastic book and one which I read bits of during my time on ICU.

Websites

ABGs – you will not be expected to fully understand these but if you can go into the placement with a basic understanding it will help you understand some of the results

ECGs – you will not be expected to fully understand these but here are a few sources if you would like to do some reading on them

Tracheostomy care

You can read my critical care blog series here

Love,

T x

My next placement is WHERE?!?

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My last placement was critical care and I’m sure you’ve all seen me banging on about how much I loved it 😂 So I was a little apprehensive about where my next placement would be and how it would compare to critical care. I know we shouldn’t compare placements and I would go into any future placement ready to learn and excited for the opportunity, but when you’ve had a placement as good as my critical care one was, it can be difficult not to worry about what future placement experiences you would receive.

We receive our placement allocations 4 weeks before we are due to start them, so I woke up on Monday morning to log in and check my allocation. I checked the placement and went back to sleep. When I woke up an hour later, I thought I had dreamt what it said. So I logged back on to find I hadn’t imagined it at all. I WOULD BE GOING TO NEONATAL FOR MY NEXT PLACEMENT!! 

Neonatal is somewhere I hadn’t even thought of having a placement, it had crossed my mind for my 4-week elective at the end of year 3 but it is notoriously hard to get as it is a popular choice. To receive it as a spoke placement is fantastic and I am very grateful for the opportunity to spend 4 weeks on neonatal.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous because I really am! Having read the student handbook, it appears that a few of the skills learnt within critical care will be transferable to neonatal but there will be a lot of new learning to be done. Plus, the fact that these are little babies and not adults scares me! What if I ‘break’ one of the little babies?! (Now I know this is irrational and I will not be ‘breaking’ any babies 😂 but it is still a worry!) Everything is different, they are so tiny (even full-term babies are tiny) and need caring for in a way that is very different from the adults I have cared for in the past. I will be completely out of my comfort zone here but I was entering critical care, after spending a year in a community hospital.  The idea of looking after critically ill babies in neonatal terrifies me, but the idea of looking after critically ill adults also terrified me and I thrived on that placement.

I don’t have any experience with children as I don’t have my own so it will be a huge learning curve but one that I am very excited for. If you’ve experienced a placement on neonatal, any tips will be gratefully received 😊

Love,

T x

 

 

Receiving a new placement allocation

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February 18th 2018 I was on a night shift on my year 1 hub placement. At midnight, my first placement allocation of year 2 was due to go live. I nervously logged on around 00:30 to find it said access denied! I was so disappointed to not be able to see my placement allocation, it said it was a medical ward but did not have the name of the placement area, at this time I thought it was just mine saying this. I kept refreshing the page throughout the night but it didn’t change. The next day, I realised that all my cohort had the same message. After some emails and phone calls to the placement team from other students, we were told it would go live the next day.

Later on that evening, I saw a Facebook status from someone in my cohort about their placement allocation. I was so nervous to log on again and check as there were a couple of areas I would have preferred not to have been allocated due to them being similar to my first year hub. I logged on to the placement allocation area and it was there.

I HAD BEEN ALLOCATED ITU/HDU FOR 6 WEEKS!!! 🎉🎉

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I was so excited, this was an area I had hoped to receive as a placement but didn’t think I would. After the excitement, the usual doubts set in. I was worried that I would be at a disadvantage having been in a community hospital for first year. I didn’t think I would have the knowledge necessary to have a good placement on an acute ward, especially one as specialist as ITU/HDU. I had two weeks at university between being on placement as a first year and going back to placement as a second year. I wondered how much more knowledge I would be expected to have being a second year on placement.

I walked in on my first day and I was terrified. I felt so overwhelmed, I had no idea what any of the machines were for or how the paperwork was filled in. I was worried I didn’t know an acute ward routine and that I would have a bad placement. My mentor was lovely and put all my worries to rest straight away. They do not expect you to know the machines or the routine as you’ve never been there before. She talked me through the daily checks and morning routine. There was a NQN on my first day as well and she was great at making me realise there’s nothing to be worried about and that even if you’re qualified and choose to work on ITU/HDU, you won’t know everything and it is all a learning curve. During my first shift, comments were made to me about applying to work there once I qualify and these have since been mentioned on my following shifts as well, so I must be doing something right! The feedback from my mentor has been positive and I feel like I know the routine a little more now. I am a quick learner so I seemed to pick up the paperwork side of things quickly and by lunchtime on the first day, I was completing the hourly obs on my own meaning my mentor could concentrate on other areas of patient care.

On my first night shift, I was drawing up a vial of Pabrinex and managed to get it all over the floor and myself! Luckily, my mentor and another staff nurse had a good laugh about it and that put me at ease. They said everyone manages to get it on them once during training, which was a relief to know I wasn’t the only clumsy one! I had 2 weeks on HDU and I am now doing 4 weeks on ITU, I have followed my mentors rotation. At my trust, the staff nurses employed on ITU/HDU do a rotation, they spend 8 weeks on HDU and 16 weeks on ITU.

I seem to have fitted into the team really well and can definitely see myself applying to work there, I just need the job to appear on NHS jobs now 😊

Do you know where you would like to work yet? Let me know!

Love,

T x

Celebrating milestones

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Year 1 contained so many milestones in my student nurse training and I can only hope that year 2 will be just as productive. I can still remember the first time I completed a drug round or the first time I injected a patient.

Enjoy the times that you get on placement doing a skill for the first time, knowing that you understand the rationale behind it and can carry out the procedure effectively. Make a note of when you do them for the first time as they are things you can look back on throughout your training and career. Milestones feel like big achievements at the time because they are individual to you and allow you to build your confidence in the skills that you are learning. Plus in a way they make you feel like a ‘real’ student nurse because you are practicing what you may have learnt in clinical skills lessons. Don’t worry if people in your cohort seem to be learning lots of new skills and you have only learnt a few on your placement, this is not a competition and we all have times where we are able to learn lots of new skills and times where it’s ‘quieter’ and you are just practicing skills that you have already learnt.

If you would like to remember your milestones throughout your training, there are many ways to do so! The Happy Planner Company sell milestone cards which are postcard sized and allow you to write the date on them, plus a few thoughts about the milestone. CA6FB4AB-C05E-4A9C-A0EC-87FA87267230

You can write the date in your diary or create a scrapbook of important days. You could even follow @PUNCadp lead and create a Year 1 highlights poster (pop onto her twitter to see for yourself!). You may want to begin a journal or follow my lead and create a blog. Find the way that works for you!

If you like to share your milestones on social media, go for it! If you’re a private person and prefer to keep them to yourself, that is also great. Don’t feel pressured into having to share your milestones just because others are doing so.

These milestones are what help us to see how far we have come as student nurses throughout our training and I feel we should be talking about them more, enabling us to show the positive sides of nursing and placement days.

Let me know the milestones that you are particularly proud of!

Love,

T x

Changing years: Expectation vs reality

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Being a student nurse is often about change and particularly transition, time seems to fly and when you’re told in the very beginning that time will fly, you may not believe it. But the longer you study, the more you realise that this is exactly the case. And now in the face of dissertation and nearing the end of my training, first year seems so far away, but it has passed in the blink of an eye.

Through this process, I’ve had a lot of questions. Some of those times, I’ve been fortunate to be able to catch another student nurse on placement about what I can expect from my future in nursing, but part of the time — I haven’t known what to expect and it has felt like entering into the unknown.

Sitting down with Toni, a second year student nurse, we decided together to do a mini Q&A on what to expect, from the eyes of someone who has been in her position.

Q. I have achieved good grades in year 1 and I’m worried about keeping up the same standard in year 2 now that they count towards the final degree classification. Is there a big jump from level 4 to level 5 academic writing?

The expectations shift a little, level 4 is often a descriptive form of writing and this year you will be expected to analyse your description more, to understand why you are saying that, from what the evidence base is telling you and to consider why pieces of information can contradict each other. In second year, I learned more about how to effectively appraise my evidence, before I reference it within a piece of academic work.

It isn’t a huge leap, the word level probably makes it sound more scary than it is. You will be guided by your lecturers, the library staff are always available for support. Your writing won’t necessarily change, rather you’re developing on the foundations that you’ve laid in your first year.

Q. I had a brilliant community hub placement in year 1 that was mainly elderly patients and I wonder if this had put me at a disadvantage coming into the acute hospital for my next placements. Will I be expected to know so much more in year 2 placements than I did in year 1?

I had a similar experience of moving from a year in the community in second year, to a placement in ITU in third year. I felt like a fish out of water! I found it was important to communicate these feelings with my mentor, to explain that my memory needed jogging about working in a hospital as I’d lost track of routines and schedules.

Placement in the community does not put you at an disadvantage, instead you learn a separate group of skills to what you may now develop going into a hospital. These skills are highly applicable, they are still nursing skills that you can utilise in any placement. For me it really just boiled down to grasping the new routine.

You will be expected to develop from first year, but that isn’t a bad thing. It’s a gradual thing. Your mentors will guide you, you will evaluate yourself as you learn more throughout the year.

Q. Almost every time I see a post on social media about year 2 it is negative, are year 2 blues really a ‘thing’?

I think this is something that we often end up a bit blasé about. Being a student nurse is a journey of highs and lows. There have been times when I’ve felt frazzled by my course, others where I’ve just known it’s perfect for me. I think the blues comes from the idea that you’re quite a distance from the beginning, but also a distance from finishing, so sometimes it feels like you still have so much to do.

My advice for this is to talk to your peers, your mentors, your lecturers. Look after yourself, practice good self-care. I always found it helped me to reflect on why I wanted to nurse in the very beginning, always go back to the start. Second year is hard, particularly emotionally, but a cup of tea and a chat can go a long way.

Q. The workload in year 1 appeared to be manageable with assignments launched early on in the year with 5-6 months to complete them. Is the workload more than year 1?

On reflection as a third year, where I have had OSCEs and I’m working on my dissertation, I do feel now that my second year workload was more manageable than this year. However, the pressures do increase and you will be balancing assignments while on placement, but this helps you to learn time management skills that are ultimately essential to life as a registered nurse.

This was a really tough part for me! Balancing moving up a level, placements, reading further, they all took more time. I cannot stress how important time management is to a successful nurse education. It’s hard work, but with good management it is manageable. Lecturers will not set assignments to be cruel, they set them to meet competencies and they set them with due dates that are manageable. It’s about taking control of your time, your education and what you want from it.

I found that in second year that I was able to explore my own interests a little more in my assignments, being able to choose an assignment focus from several case studies and following one. This is a good opportunity for you to identify the gaps in your knowledge and fill them, often also helping you to discover what areas of nursing you have a passion for.

Second year is a journey, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Enjoy the time you have, manage the time you have, remember why you started and remember that you’ve come so far. First year is completed and you are entering the next stage of your education.

Good luck for this year!

Love,

T & A x

*Book review* Clinical Placements

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Clinical Placements by Kirstie Paterson and Jessica Wallar (edited by Kath MacDonald) is part of the pocket guides for student nurses collection of books. These are little pocket-sized books that aim to provide useful information to student nurses. Subjects such as intensive care, general practice, older person care and many other areas of nursing are currently under development so please look out for them in the future!

The foreword of the book discusses how the book came to be written and can be seen below. It was written by recent nursing graduates, reviewed by students and checked by a clinical supervisor.

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There is a list of common abbreviations which I know I would have found so helpful before starting placement as the first time I looked at a handover sheet it appeared to be in a different language!

There are four sections to the book: Getting there; Settling there; Being there and Moving on from there.

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  • Getting there includes tips for preparing for your first placement, information about the NMC code of conduct and guidance on social media usage.
  • The settling there section talks about your first day, how to work with your mentor and how to improve your communication skills with the team and patients.
  • Being there is about your time spent on placement and the common assessment tools you may come across within your placement area. Personal safety on placement is covered and drug calculations as well.
  • Moving on from there includes a fantastic FAQ section featuring common questions I know a lot of student nurses will have thought about.

Throughout the book there are links to the NMC code of conduct and handy pages around patient assessment tools such as NEWS and Waterlow. These would be useful for any student nurse on their first placement. There are also spaces for students to make their own notes.

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I would recommend this book to anyone starting university as a student nurse soon, I haven’t seen a book of this size with this much information in before, it is small enough to be kept in your pocket or your bag during placement shifts to be used as a guide should you need it. It is also a great read before starting placement which would help to alleviate any of those nerves around starting a placement. The book is designed to make placements more enjoyable and less stressful – I would say it definitely does this! It would be perfect for first placements but would also be handy for students further into their training to keep as a reminder guide.

If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here. The book is currently priced at £9.99 and published by Lantern Publishing ltd. You can also purchase direct from Lantern Publishing here.

Common Abbreviations

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The ward I am currently at on placement uses a number of abbreviations on the handover sheet, as I’m sure other wards do as well. I have compiled a list of the most common ones used on my ward. Please be aware that these are specific to my ward and other wards may use the same abbreviations with different meanings.

Ad – admitted

CP – care plan

rv – review

bd – twice a day

inc – incontinent

ref – referred

res – residential

NA – nursing assessment

CCC – continuing care checklist

DC – discharge

TTO – to take out. Used to describe medications that the patient will be taking with them on discharge.

HTN – hypertension

CCF – congestive cardiac failure. Also known as CHF – chronic heart failure

CVA – Cerebrovascular accident also known as a stroke

TIA – Transient ischemic attack – a ‘mini-stroke’

ND/F – normal diet and fluid

TVN – tissue viability nurse

#NOF – fracture neck of femur

AKI – acute kidney injury

LRTI – Lower respiratory tract infection

ROT – rotunda

WZF – walking zimmer frame

PMH – past medical history

HF – heart failure

CKD – chronic kidney disease

Con – continent

RA – rheumatoid arthritis

MI – myocardial infarction

CP – care package

PE – pulmonary embolism

DVT – Deep vein thrombosis

FBC – fluid balance chart

DPM – discharge planning meeting

GORD – gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

SOB – shortness of breath

Ax – assessment

3WW – 3 wheeled walker

TBA – to be assessed

HV – home visit

Abx – antibiotics

POA – power of attorney

Let me know if your placement uses the same abbreviation for something else!

Love,

T x

 

Time for placement!

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Here are my collection of top tips for your first placement, based on my own experience:

  • Visit your placement before starting if possible, it gives you a chance to check how long it will take you to get there and what the parking options are if needed. You can also meet some members of the team and be shown around the ward. I find a quick pre-placement visit helps to stop first day nerves.
  • Contact your placement and ask if there is anything specific that you need to research before starting.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you want to know how to do something or why your mentor is doing something, ask! That is what they are there for and should be happy to answer any questions you have.
  • Organise time with your mentor to go through your placement paperwork and remember to get your hours signed after every shift.
  • Make a note of any terms on the handover sheet or in the care plans that you do not understand and check them with your mentor when you get chance. There are often abbreviations on a handover sheet, the first time I looked at one I thought half of it was in a different language!
  • Spend time with the HCAs, they know so much about the ward routine and the patients.
  • Organise insight visits throughout your time there. I am on a rehab ward in a community hospital so I have spent time with the OTs and physios. I plan to spend time with the district nurses and ANP as well. You can arrange insight visits that are relevant to your placement and these help you to understand the roles within the MDT.
  • Ask to sit in MDT meetings, care planning meetings or other meetings on the ward. Accompany the doctor on their rounds. All these things give you an insight into how the whole ward team work together to provide care for the patients.
  • Take a packed lunch. You may be in a busy area or may not know what the catering options are at your placement, having your lunch with you takes away the stress of spending your break finding something to eat.
  • Your uniform is a reflection on you and the university so always wear a clean, ironed uniform and adhere to your university’s uniform policy regarding hair, shoes, nails etc.
  • Try not to go into placement with high expectations, you may spend a few days with the HCAs or observing your mentor for weeks before you start practicing new skills.
  • If a patient asks you a question you do not know the answer to, it is ok to say that you do not know but that you will find someone who does know the answer. Patients respect the fact you are honest enough to admit you do not know and will appreciate it when you return with the correct answer for them. This also helps to build your own knowledge.
  • Remember to stay hydrated! It is easy to forget to look after your own fluid intake when you are monitoring patients or busy with your mentor but try to keep drinking throughout the day whenever there is an opportunity.
  • Turn up on time and if you will be late, give your placement a quick ring to let them know. Also adhere to any absence policies at your university if you need time off.
  • There will be common medications that are used on your placement, try to make a note of these or ask your mentor if there is a list they can provide. It is handy to research these and to know what they are used for/a few common side effects.
  • Have a little notepad in your pocket to note down anything you will need to research later or terms you don’t understand to ask your mentor.
  • It is ok to feel out of place or overwhelmed. Speak to your mentor or your personal tutor if you are feeling this, they will help in any way they can.
  • Spend any time you can interacting with patients, they will often be experts in their own condition and you can learn so much by spending a few minutes with a patient. This also helps to build your confidence and develop your communication skills.
  • Reflect often. Every experience is a learning opportunity and by reflecting on situations you can see what could be improved upon for the next time or what was done correctly the first time.
  • Do not worry if you don’t have any previous care experience, you will develop the skills over time and it can often be beneficial to go in with no experience as you have no preconceived ideas of how things are/should be done.
  • If you do have care experience, discuss this with your mentor and utilise your existing skills whilst on the placement. However, be aware that some of the practices used within the hospital may differ to those used in care homes or community care if this is where you have gained your experience. Basic care skills are very transferable though.
  • Try not to compare your experiences with those of your cohort, I had days where it hadn’t been a good day and seeing other people really enjoying their placements made me very jealous. Other times, it was me having a brilliant day and others feeling down. It’s good to have their support but remember everyone has their own experiences and good/bad days.
  • Check with your university what you are allowed to do, for example some universities do not allow students to test blood sugar levels even if you have had the training in your employment/previous experience.
  • Remember you are allowed to say no if you do not feel comfortable trying a new skill. It is perfectly fine to observe your mentor until you do feel comfortable to give it a go!
  • Enjoy your days off, even if it means staying in your pyjamas and binge watching tv you have missed!
  • Remember that it is your first placement. Your mentor will not expect you to know or be able to do everything. Take every opportunity to learn and get involved wherever possible. Show a willingness to learn, enthusiasm and respect for the ward and you cannot go wrong 🙂

Let me know if you have any more and where your first placements are!

Love,

T x