A year to go until you’re a staff nurse!

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Here are my tips for third year!

  1. If you have a dissertation/literature review to complete, try to choose a topic early on and find your papers. It gives you a head start and enables you to be organised with your work.
  2. Be aware that this year will fly! If you think your course has flown by up to now, third year really does zoom by.
  3. Start looking for jobs but don’t worry about having to gain one immediately. You have plenty of time to apply throughout the year and your university may provide you with practice interviews to gain experience.
  4. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. You do know what you need to know and anything else will be learnt in the specific area you go into. They say nursing begins once you qualify as that is when you learn the most of your knowledge.
  5. Start saving a little every month. When you finish your third year, you will have your first years NMC fee to pay – which is currently £120. Add this to the cost of graduation and any graduation ball that your cohort may have and it can be a costly few months before you start earning a full wage.
  6. Keep your portfolio up to date throughout the year. Potential employers may wish to see this and keeping it organised minimises the stress of having to finish it all before the end of third year.
  7. When on placement, take first and second years ‘under your wing’ if you can. This provides a support network for you all and gives you experience of being a mentor to a student ready for when you qualify. It also helps the first and second years to know they have someone who has been in their position to turn to for advice and support.
  8. If you have any worries or concerns, speak to your lecturers. They have seen plenty of students in your position and have even been there themselves so they know exactly how you’re feeling coming up to qualifying.
  9. Think about keepsakes from your course. There are companies who can turn one of your student uniforms into a teddy or a cushion. Frame your student nurse badge once you have completed the course as a reminder of your journey.
  10. Plan a holiday or social event with your friends to celebrate qualifying, this gives you something to look forward to and focus on throughout the year.
  11. Know what needs signing/completing in your OARs and when it needs completing by. If you can go into your placements with this information ready for your mentor, it takes away a little bit of worry.
  12. Do your research before starting each placement. Know a little bit about the speciality of your placement and the common medications used there.
  13. Reach out if you begin to feel overwhelmed at any point.

Let me know if you have any other good tips for third year!

Love,

T x

How to survive long shifts on placement

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Comfortable shoes – this would probably be my number 1 tip for placement! Most ward shifts will be 12+ hours and there is nothing worse than sore feet when you’re on shift. I have Clarks Unloops and find them to be very comfortable, I wear them for placement and 14 hour shifts at my care home job and my feet are always fine. Some people don’t like Unloops, it’s just about finding what shoes work for you. Others recommend Sketchers Go Walks.

Compression socks – standing up for most of a 12+ hour shift can cause achy calves and lower legs, wearing compression socks can really help to avoid this.

Plenty of water – keep a water bottle close by if you are able to do so. Some wards allow water bottles at the nurses station or in a cupboard out of sight. If you are not able to do so, you are allowed to use quiet times to quickly nip for a drink of water. It’s important to keep hydrated especially on long shifts.

A good nights sleep – this helps concentration and also helps you to feel ready for the day. Try to get an early night before a placement shift.

A good breakfast – being hungry doesn’t help concentration or mood (I find this anyway 😂). Try to have something filling such as porridge or toast, this will keep you going until you go on your first break.

Ask your mentor for 5 minutes if you need them, especially on your first placement your mentor will be understanding if you haven’t done long shifts before.

Prepare uniform, bag etc the night before to stop morning stress – you don’t want to be rushing around in the morning getting all your things together and running the risk of forgetting something, prepare your things the night before and you can take your time getting ready in the morning without the stress.

Baby wipes and deodorant – you can use these on your break to freshen up and wipe your face on a night shift if you are feeling tired. Wards can be warm and having deodorant in your bag can be useful for freshening up as well.

You do adjust quickly – after a few long shifts, your body will start to adjust to them and you will start to find them easier.

Don’t over-rely on caffeine – this applies more to night shifts. It can be easier to think that drinking caffeine all night will make it easier to stay awake, this is often not the case. You can ‘crash’ and feel more tired , try to keep hydrated with water and stop drinking caffeine around 4am to help you get to sleep when you get home.

Speak to your mentor if you are struggling – if you are finding the shifts difficult or struggling to cope with 2 or 3 in a row, talk to your mentor. They can split your shifts up (where possible) or possibly spilt a shift so you can do 2 1/2 shifts instead of long days all week. Most mentors will be understanding, especially if it’s your first placement and you are not used to doing long shifts. Ward shifts do tend to be 12+ hours but you do have plenty of placement time to adjust to them.

A long, relaxing bath – I find there is nothing better after a long shift than a red-hot bath with plenty of bubbles and a face mask! This might not work for everyone but find the one thing that helps you to unwind after a long shift.

Mints/chewing gum – I always keep these in my pocket just to freshen my breath after a break (not recommending that you chew gum on placement, just to freshen your breath and then dispose before returning from break). You can even take your toothbrush and toothpaste!

Utilising quiet time – I know this may be rare on some placements, but if you do get a quiet hour in an afternoon use the time wisely. I like to get the BNF out and make notes on common medications used in that placement area, or speak to a patient with a condition you don’t know much information about – patients will often be very knowledgeable about conditions they have managed for years.

Let me know if you have any other good tips!

Love,

T x

How to survive your research module

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These are tips complied from my own experience of a research module, some may be more specific to the module I completed than a generic research module but I hope you find them useful!

Don’t panic – research modules are often seen as big scary modules that consume your life. Utilise the class resources and your lecturers. If you find yourself struggling – ask for help, read more resources, speak to someone who has completed the module before or someone in your cohort who may be able to help and take a deep breath. You can do this module and pass the assignment!

Start early – you will need to do lots of wider reading to fully understand the terminology used and this can be time-consuming. Start early and gather references for key points before you start writing. Make a plan so you know what you want to include in each section, this will help you to find relevant supporting evidence.

Understand the terminology – research terminology can often seem like a brand new language, which it is if you have never done a research module before or fully read research papers. Spend some time learning the terminology before you start writing your assignment, and see how the terminology features in and applies to your chosen papers.

Read through your chosen papers a few times – highlight terminology where it’s used and try to understand the flow of a research paper. Use the abstract on the front to gain understanding of the key areas within the paper and read the background/literature review included to understand the aim of the paper.

Write in sections – this can help you to focus and keep the information relevant. Break your papers down into method, data collection, data analysis and results. This can help you to pick out relevant pieces of information and enables you to focus your search for references. These key areas are usually included concisely within the abstract.

Strengths and limitations – the good thing about research is that there are strengths and limitations available for every aspect of the research methods. This enables you to get good critical analysis into the assignment, you can build arguments for every section of the research paper.

Application to practice – some research papers will include this in detail, if yours doesn’t look at other similar research papers to see how they would apply their findings to practice. Link back to current guidelines such as NICE to show you have an understanding of how research can be used to develop guidelines and influence nursing practice.

Hierarchy of evidence pyramid – look at how the different research methods feature at different points of the pyramid. This may be worth discussing and gives you an understanding of why some research methods are preferred to others.

Don’t worry if it’s not your thing – we all have our own little niches, research happens to be one of mine but if you don’t enjoy it, it just means it isn’t your area but something else will be! The world would be a boring place if we all enjoyed the same things. Try to understand the module the best you can and use this module to improve your research understanding, this will help you with your dissertation/literature review even if you don’t love the research module itself!

Love,

T x

 

 

Second year is the worst….or is it?

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I’ve seen so many posts about how bad second year is and how difficult it can be, I am 6 months into second year now and thought I would share my top tips on how to make it a little more bearable!

  • Start work as soon as you get it. Gather references for the assignments before you start them as this helps when starting to write.
  • Remember how far you have already come. Think about your first day and how much you have learnt/changed since then. Write a list of achievements from year 1 that you can look back on.
  • Plan things throughout the year. I found this helps the time to pass a little quicker if you have things to look forward to.
  • For research modules – make sure you fully understand the terminology as this will help you when completing the assignment.
  • Take everything you hear from previous cohorts about assignments with a pinch of salt, you may really enjoy something that someone else didn’t.
  • Placement pre-reading. Placements will expect you to have a little more knowledge this year so pre-reading is a must.
  • Take on your own patients. Even if it’s only one patient for that day, take responsibility for their care (within the limits of what you can do with mentor supervision). This really helps to build confidence and third year responsibilities won’t seem as daunting if you have been doing them through year 2.
  • If you’re struggling, reach out to someone. Your personal tutor, another lecturer, someone on social media. It doesn’t really matter who it is just make sure you open up to someone, don’t try to manage through on your own if you feel you are struggling.
  • Get hold of a book on critical writing and thinking. The step up to level 5 writing can seem huge but it’s really about being able to say why something is done the way it is, wider reading and being critical in your thought process. I can recommend these two:
  • Take time for yourself. This is important in any year but do the things that make you happy. Self care can really help when you’re feeling fed up!
  • Chip away at assignments bit by bit. I start mine as soon as they are available and chip away, doing an hour or 2 a day if that’s the only time I have. Before you know it, the assignment is completed and it’s just the final checks you need to do.
  • Reference as you go! I say this all the time but with critical thinking comes more references, the last thing you want is to get to the end and have to find all 50+ of your references again to get them on your list.
  • Take on board previous feedback from year 1 and speak to lecturers about how to successfully write at level 5, they may have little hints and tips that will help you.
  • If you have to work around university, try to keep at least 1 full day off a week for assignments and yourself. You may even be able to join the bank at your hospital trust now, allowing more flexibility with shifts.
  • Try not to be disheartened if your first result is a drop compared to your first year grades. This can happen with the step up to level 5 writing, ask for guidance and really pay attention to your assignment feedback.
  • Try to save a little money each month, student finance drops in year 3 so saving a little bit during year 2 will help fill the gap.
  • Make sure your referencing is up to scratch, I have found this book really helpful for referencing (there is a website as well). Referencing tools are great but I prefer to create them myself then I can be confident that any errors are down to myself and you actually learn how to reference when you do them yourself.

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  • Keep up with your car maintenance, this may seem obvious but if you use your car a lot for uni and placement, wear and tear can occur faster than through doing normal mileage. The last thing you want is to be sat on the motorway waiting for the AA! (Other breakdown recovery companies are available 😂)
  • Email your assignments to yourself or save them on onedrive/google drive/a USB stick. Again, this may seem obvious but if your computer breaks or your work doesn’t save, you risk losing all the work you have done towards an assignment.
  • Keep in touch with your friends during placement, this kept me going through long shifts and weeks on placement.

Let me know if you have any other good tips for year 2 😘

Love,

T x

Top tips for a critical care placement

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Visit the ward before you start

This gives you chance to meet your mentor and ask if there’s anything specific they would like you to read up on beforehand. You can have a look around the ward and see some of the machines you will come across on your time there. This was the one placement I didn’t manage to get to before starting and the first day nerves were ridiculous!

Do some reading before starting

I say this about every placement but I feel like a critical care placement really does need some pre-reading. Even if it’s just brushing up on your a&p knowledge! My placement had a student pack that contained common equipment and common medications used, as well as a list of reasons why a patient would be transferred to HDU/ITU which I found really useful as it gave me a little insight before starting. You can see my critical care series here.

It’s normal to be worried or terrified, I was!

Critical care was my first placement of second year, after spending the whole of first year in a community hospital on an elderly rehab ward. I hadn’t been on an acute ward before critical care. I loved it from day 1 and really thrived there, it developed my confidence so much! I walked in on day 1 terrified, feeling that I would never know what I was doing. This is normal I can promise you that. Trust your own skills and knowledge and know that the nurses there don’t expect you to know everything about the area, it’s too specialised for that. Just go in eager to learn and you cannot go wrong!

Develop knowledge of normal anatomy and what happens when it becomes abnormal

You may already have a good understanding of a&p, enhance this by reading up on pathophysiology. This is the explanations of how conditions develop and progress. It can really help your understanding of why patients are in HDU/ITU and what the treatment plan is.

Ask questions, utilise the knowledge that the nurses and doctors have in this area

The nurses and doctors in this area are so knowledgeable and in my experience, more than happy to share all this knowledge with students who are willing to learn. There are no silly questions and you will get to see some interesting things on a critical care placement! I watched intubations, extubations, trachestomy insertion, ecgs, sedation breaks and experienced my first arrest situation (which is very different in a critical care area because you can see it developing before it actually occurs). Remember to talk through things you see with your mentor and write reflections on any relevant experiences you have on critical care.

Learn the names of equipment used

When I was managing my own patient, in the afternoon I would take the time to fill the bed space trolley up with the essentials. If you know the names of the equipment used, it can really help your mentor and show your own initiative to fill the trolley up in quiet periods. Learn the bedside checks as well and how to carry these out, this is a job you can be doing for your mentor at the beginning of shifts whilst they carry out other tasks.

Brush up on your SBAR and A-E handovers

These are used every time you hand over on critical care (in my experience) and I soon learnt the quickest way to handover whilst still including all the information needed for the nurses taking over the care of your patient. It is a quick and concise way to hand over and means all hand overs include the relevant information.

Take a notebook, this is a must for any placement but especially for this one!

There is so much to learn on this placement, I filled two pocket notebooks in my 6 weeks in critical care! Make notes on everything, ask questions, use quiet time to research common medications using the ward BNF, read medical notes and make a note of any terminology you don’t understand so you can research it later on.

Learn the common medications used there and how they work

This really helped me to understand why patients were on medications and how the different doses worked. Ask your mentor for the common medications used and spend some time researching why they are used and how they help the patient. You can read the common medications I came across in critical care here.

If it is a short placement, use it to develop your medication knowledge and handover skills

If you have critical care for a spoke placement, you may not have time to fully develop your knowledge of the ward but you can use it to develop your handover skills and how to care for a critical patient. Enjoy every shift, take every opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Love,

T x

How to start blogging

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There have been some great blogs appearing recently on twitter, influenced by the 30 day July blogger challenge (@BloggersNurse) and the @WeNurses #70nursebloggers. I often see people asking how they can start a blog or for advice on what to blog about so I thought I would compile another one of my top tip posts around getting started as a student nurse blogger!

1. Choose your blogging platform

There are a number of free blogging platforms out there including WordPress and Blogger that are easy to use and can be personalised to how you want them. When you have been blogging a while, you could purchase a new theme or your own custom site address but for starting out the free ones are great.

2. Create a name

Try to choose something original and relevant to you. I chose student nurse and beyond because it describes where I am now and also allows me to carry on blogging using the same name once I qualify. There are some great blog names out there and you can really inject your own personality into them.

3. Personalise your blog

You can choose different themes and colour schemes to make your blog stand out. If you are a dab hand with graphics, you can design your own header or you can use one of the preloaded ones on the blogging site. I had my header designed by a friend and it gives my blog a personalised edge. Upload your own photos to give your blog a personal feel as well.

4. Create your first post

If you are a student nurse starting a blog, I would recommend blogging first about why you decided to start your nursing journey and why you chose the branch you did. This gives the reader an insight into you and helps to create a rapport with readers. Your posts don’t need to be too long and can be written in an informal style.

5. Read other blogs

Reading other blogs can help you to see different writing styles and what you may like to write about. If you see a topic on someone’s blog that you would like to write about, credit them within your post. It’s fine to take inspiration from other blogs, everyone does but people spend a lot of time of their posts so try not to just reword their posts to present as your own. Use your own skills and talent to create original content to you.

6. Don’t rely on a schedule

My advice would be to not put pressure on yourself when it comes to regular posting. Some bloggers post regularly and some don’t. Whatever works for you and your own schedule is good! Sometimes you can feel pressured to post once a week and it’s an added worry when you get busy and cannot manage to post that week.

7. Enjoy blogging!

I love blogging and find it really enjoyable to write, I like creating my top tip posts because I can give advice from my own experiences and if it even helps one person then that is fantastic! I personally stay away from commenting on political nursing issues but other bloggers comment on these really well (@Ewout1985, @CharlotteRCN, @JeepersMcCoy, @SchofieldRosie to name but a few). You can write about whatever you want to, but be mindful to maintain confidentiality at all times and to remain professional within your writing.

8. Don’t worry about the readers

It can take a while to build a regular readership on your blog, and even if you write a blog post to find only 5 people have read it it doesn’t matter! Write your blogs for you and if other people find them useful/interesting then that is a bonus. Blogging can soon become a ‘chore’ if you’re constantly writing to try to please other people.

9. Share your post

Promote your blog on social media – Twitter is a great place to share blogs! Some useful # to pop on your posts are: #WeStNs #studentnurse

10. Continue blogging!

So you’ve got your first post out there and you really enjoyed writing it! Now carry on! Blog about your uni experience, your placement areas, your personal opinions, anything you want to write about.

If you want more information on how to start blogging, pop over to @WeNurses on twitter where there are some useful infographics to get you started!

Share your blog links with me as I love to read new blogs 😘

Love,

T x

Revision! Revision! Revision!

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Here are my top tips for revision!

  • Start early. As soon as the exam date is announced, plan how you will organise your revision.
  • Plan your time. I had a revision schedule so I planned 3 hours of revision a day (with a 15 minute break) where possible and stuck to this. My exam was anatomy & physiology so I chose a different system every week to revise.
  • Break it into sections. If your revision is for a&p, break it down into systems. If its for another module, break it down into manageable sections and try not to revise too much at once.
  • Create a checklist to keep track of your revision.

  • I have learnt to do what I call ‘skim reading’, so I can pick out the important words/points in a section of text and make my own notes on it. This improves understanding as you’re writing your own notes as you go along and also helps you to develop your paraphrasing skills.
  • Learn as you go along. Revise the things you have learnt that day in university as the information will be fresh and I find it easier to retain things if I look over them again after university has finished for the day.
  • Discover what type of learner you are. There are a number of types: visual, aural, reading/writing and kinesthetic. I learn through reading/writing, others learn through the use of colour or videos.
  • Use colour. Coloured posters, highlighters, flashcards. If it’s in colour, you may find it easy to remember instead of just being on white paper.

  • Make flashcards. I wrote a question on one side, answer on the other and asked people to test me. I also made ones with key pieces of information on to read through in my spare time. Below are some of the flashcards I created.

  • Diagrams are useful. I printed some a&p diagrams without labels on and worked on labelling them over and over again until I knew all the labels.
  • Youtube. If you’re a visual learner, there are bound to be videos on youtube for your subject. If you are revising for a&p, crash course with Hank is fantastic.
  • Utilise available apps. Khan Academy is fantastic for a&p, it’s free and includes quizzes.
  • Put posters around the house. During your exam you may be able to visualise the room and the information in there. It may also help you to revise as every room you go in with have some information to look at whatever you are doing at the time.

  • I have seen people recommending recording yourself talking about your revision and listening to it as you fall asleep on a night can help. I haven’t tried this myself but you could always try it to see if it works for you!
  • Find a quiet space. Try to revise on your own, I like to listen to music quietly in the background but others prefer silence. You will learn pretty quickly what works best for you.
  • Use mnemonics. You can create these and by remembering these, it helps you to remember the more complex thing it stands for. An example is: for the layers of the epidermis, they all begin with stratum. So to remember the order of the layers (superficial to deepest):

Clever (Corneum)

Ladies (Lucidum)

Get (Granulosum)

Skin (Spinosum)

Beautiful (Basale)

(This is from my fantastic a&p lecturer @JaneTurnerStH who told us some fantastic mnemonics).

  • Try to get plenty of rest. A well rested mind will help you to revise and retain information.
  • Remember to keep your energy levels up whilst revising, this helps with concentration levels and gives you an opportunity for a 15 minute break. Snack on fruit and try to limit caffeine as this can cause slumps in concentration levels.

  • If you can access past papers, these are great to get a feel for the style of questions and what will be required in the test.
  • Consider revising in groups if this is how you like to work, you will be able to test each other and assist with each other’s knowledge.
  • Celebrate reaching revision targets as this helps to keep you motivated.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others, we all learn at different rates.
  • If you know you get nervous on the morning of the exam, try not to be around other people who will be fretting and talking about the exam. It will just make you worry more.

Let me know if you have any other great tips!

Love,

T x

Images sourced from pixabay unless stated otherwise.

How to survive group work as a student nurse

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“This module will include group work”. Something that I’m sure many of us dread hearing at university. This may be because you prefer working on your own or because you’ve had a bad group work experience before. Group work brings different personalities together and these can sometimes clash, I’ve compiled a few tips to help get you through the group work and out of the other end smiling!

1. Make sure everyone understands the assignment 

When the project is first assigned, the most important thing is to make sure everyone understands what is needed and when by. Making sure all group members are on the same page early on is essential to good group work. Get to know a little bit about all the group members and where they feel their strengths will lie within the project.

2. Spilt up tasks and create a team 

Once you’ve determined what people’s strengths are, you can use them to make your project a success. Some people may be creative, some may enjoy writing, some may prefer to present the presentation (if this is part of your task). If you can split the work up evenly between yourselves and utilise everyone’s strengths, it makes the whole process run a lot smoother.

3. Encourage participation 

Sometimes during group work, it’s easy for people to feel as if their ideas are not valued or are not being listened to. Always try to encourage members to talk about their ideas and if you don’t agree with them, try to say this in a non judgemental, constructive way….so explain why you don’t think that’s the right idea for the project or what you could change slightly to make it the right idea. Trying to compromise on ideas is always better than saying no outright. Challenge opinions respectfully and always be open to other members’ points of view.

4. Communication

Communication is key to group tasks! You will never have a good group work experience unless you communicate. Stay in regular contact with group members and keep everyone up to date with anything that is happening. I’ve always found creating a WhatsApp or Facebook chat group is an easy way to keep group work chat in one place. Try to meet up regularly as well, having a message group is good but messages can often be taken in a different manner to which they are meant. Meeting up as a group is good for brainstorming and developing the project.

5. Don’t try to take charge immediately 

I get it, some people are naturally ‘leaders’. Try not to be the person who walks into group work and immediately tries to take charge, this can cause problems within the group from the start that may be hard to rectify later on. Everyone within the group should be equal and often one person ‘taking charge’ is great for organisation but when there is more than one person who wants to be the ‘leader’, this can often lead to clashes. Everyone should work together to ensure the project is completed. A ‘leader’ may naturally emerge throughout the weeks, and that is a much better way than someone assuming they will be from the start.

6. Pull your weight

It can be easy during group work for someone to take on a lot of the tasks and for others to not do much. This isn’t fair on the other members and can often lead to resentment. If you are assigned a task within the group, keep up with the work for it and have it completed by the relevant deadline date.

7. Picking your group

If you find yourself in a situation where you can pick your own group, you think ‘great! I can be with all my friends and it will be great’. Whilst it’s nice to be in a group full of friends, it may not be right for you. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be organised and your friend is a last minute type of person, being in a group together may not work for you. Try to be in a group with people who work like you and you may just find that you enjoy the process!

8. Recognise why group work is used 

Group work may feel like a pointless task at times, but there are many benefits to it. You can improve communication skills that you already have and work with a variety of different people. In first year, group work is a great tool for getting to know other people in your cohort. Group work can help with team building and collaboration skills which we will all need when we start our NQN jobs. Other skills you can develop are problem solving, time management, delegation and confidence in your own knowledge.

Love,

T x

 

 

Assignment planning

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Here are the tips that have helped me gain a first (70%+) in each of my first year assignments 😊

  • As soon as the assignment is set, write the deadline in your diary. I always write in a reminder a month before the due date as well.
  • Print the assignment brief/crib sheet off and read through the learning outcomes to ensure you know what the assignment is wanting. Also print out the marking guidance to check your final assignment against.
  • Soon after the assignment is set, sit down and make a plan of when you would like to have sections completed by.
  • If you have no idea how to make a plan for yourself, Kent University have a resource called ASK : Assignment Survival Kit. You input your start date and deadline date, it generates a plan for you with dates on to have different sections completed by.
  • Begin by finding relevant sources of information that you may use within your assignment, create a reference list with these on as you find them. It’s much easier to compile your reference list as you go along, instead of leaving it until the end.
  • Try to find references from a range of sources. Use reputable internet sites, journal articles and textbooks to give you a wide selection of resources. This also shows that you have taken the time to read around your subject instead of just using what a google search brings up.
  • There is no limit on the amount of references, I aim to have at least one every 100 words.
  • Print internet resources out so that you can highlight key points that you would like to paraphrase, this saves time returning to the website constantly. I write the reference on a sticky note and attach to the printed out resource.
  • Write your assignment in note form. Use headers such as ‘Intro’, ‘paragraph 1’ etc and just bullet point what you think you will include in these sections.
  • Write a draft and then leave it a few weeks before you look at it again. This helps to look at the assignment with ‘fresh eyes’ and spot any errors or information that is missing.
  • I write my introduction first, others write the introduction once they have wrote the main body of the assignment. Either way is fine, whichever works for you!
  • Aim to have the assignment finished around a month before the deadline, this allows time to edit and check all the references a couple of times before it is due.
  • Before submitting, check your reference list matches your in-text references. I also check that any internet links are correct and link to the correct websites.
  • CEB3DD45-5B50-42C6-813C-D3FF225DFC19This option on word will alphabetise your reference list if you highlight the full list and click it.
  • If you are going to buy one book for university, make it the Cite Them Right book. It has many different referencing styles in and I find it better to use than the website.
  • About 2 weeks before the deadline, I’ll submit my assignment into turnitin, minus my reference list, so I can see the similarity score and change anything that needs changing. I will then submit with my reference list attached.
  • Around 2 days before deadline, I will read my assignment for the last time. I will make any last minute changes and then submit for the final time.
  • If you have a couple of assignments due around the same time, try to complete one in at least draft form before you start another one. Some people can have a few assignments on the go at once, but I like to complete one in draft form before I start on another.
  • Try to complete as much as you can whilst you’re on theory time at uni, as the last thing you want to do after a placement shift is work on assignments.
  • Read your assignment out loud as this helps to pick up on any grammatical errors. Choose someone else to proofread it if you can (not the best idea to choose someone in your cohort however much you trust them!).
  • An hour a day is better than nothing!

If you’re a last minute person, you may not feel these tips are useful for you. What I would say is even if you only gather your sources of information so you have a draft reference list, this will save you time whilst you’re writing your assignment. You may find that you need more but at least you’ll have a selection ready to be used.

Let me know if you have any other useful tips!

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