The other day, I was talking to some of my friends about how easily we can forget what is expected of us as student nurses. It sounds strange but, sometimes you can lose sight of getting the most out of a placement allocation, and instead, you can fall into the habit of just passively going to placement. And this is coming from Third Year students! So I can only imagine how daunting placements might be for those of you who are prospective nursing students.
This brings me to the focus of today’s blog. I am going to highlight how to make sure you’re getting the most out of your placement. Don’t worry, this will be relevant regardless of what field of nursing you are going into. You will be happy to know I am going to leave out all the everyday, more common tips, like ‘read up beforehand’ etc. Don’t worry, this is exclusive, insider content guys!
Being organised is sooo important
I can’t express enough the importance of being organised and proactive, especially when it comes to your PebblePad! For those of you who don’t know, ‘PebblePad’ is the platform we use to complete our placement portfolios. It is one of those things that tends to grow more and more overwhelming the more you neglect it. I find it helpful setting dates with my Practice Assessor upon starting a placement. Having pre-determined appointments, ensures that we complete all the different aspects of PebblePad. These meetings also provide an opportunity for me to review my goals, thus creating a nice structure to my placement. They also acted as deadlines. This created urgency as I knew I had to have filled in certain bits of PebblePad on time to prevent any disruption to our plan.
I’d strongly advise you use your meetings with your assessors and supervisors to let them know what you want to achieve in your placement. And ask them to help you figure out steps on how to make those goals achievable. Doing this also helps the staff to be more receptive to things you might have an interest in when carrying out the various tasks and activities that crop up during the day. So this way, they’d know when to invite you to get involved or observe.
Utilise your ‘proficiencies’
Going along with that, please use your proficiencies. These can be found in your PebblePad portfolio too. This is something I wish I did more of. Your proficiencies are based on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) guidance for a newly qualified nurse. And they are specific to each year of the nursing degree. So why not use them to guide your learning on placement? Doing this should make you feel more focused. I think this is a good first port of call when you’re trying to navigate what is expected of you at a particular level in the course.
Ignore the haters
I know it might sound dramatic, but please don’t listen to the haters. Sometimes you might come across negative people, people having a bad day, or people who just haven’t had the opportunity to see you at your best. These people might make some discouraging comments, ones that make you question your capability. This is something I don’t feel is talked about enough in the student nursing community. But I am here to say… don’t take their comments personally.
Some of my friends are a prime example of this. People, (sometimes patients or even staff), have made misjudgments of their character and their skill set. Luckily, they didn’t let those comments get them down for long. After learning more as the course progressed, the involvement of Practice Learning Links (in some cases), and gaining more confidence, they are some of the most competent student nurses I know!
Of course, the comments of a few, don’t represent the beliefs of everyone. But I know that in the moment it can be easy to let such remarks get you down. That’s another thing to touch on, the placement learning links are amazing and so helpful, I can personally testify to that! On the off chance that you have any questions or issues with your placement, I have found that they offer valuable input and support.
Students turned placement family
Work together with other students. If you are lucky enough to have other students with you on your placement, make the most of this! Try not to entertain any competitiveness. You’re all on the same team, and can have each other’s backs and get each other through the harder days. If you have students from different years of the program or even different fields of nursing, this is even better because you can learn so much from one another! Additionally, I sometimes find that a fellow student can teach me something in a more memorable way than a lecturer or nurse might. You can even take it a step further and create a group chat for you all! Make the most of opportunities to create a little supportive community for yourselves, you will really thank yourselves later.
Make your (placement) life easier
Here’s a tip people often forget about: making life easier for yourself. You might hear of students complaining about placement. However, it’s not that we dread the placement itself, it is usually that we aren’t looking forward to what it’s associated with. For example, waking up super early. So, why not find out what you can do to make these moments more bearable? Just ask yourself ‘what can I do now, to prevent me from hating my life later?’ That’s what usually helps me! These could be things like pack your placement bag the night before, meal prep at the beginning of the week, change your alarm tone to a song you love etc.
An honourable mention…
As an ‘honourable mention’, I would also like to highlight the importance of looking for little moments in the days you’re at placement that bring a smile to your face. It makes the long days feel more fun and romanticised. Here are some examples for me:
So hopefully, you have picked up a few things from my rambling and now you are looking forward to your first (or next), placement allocation! Hopefully, you liked my raw and personal take on how to enjoy your placement and make it work for you. I just wanted to emphasize that the placement experience is very variable. A lot of the time, it depends on you, so really try and engage with the staff, the various tasks and skills and especially the patients. Most importantly, enjoy your placements!
Read more student stories about Nursing at York
Helen O'Brien says
Thank you for such sensible advice.