Anxieties of a new placement…why am I like this?

As a student nurse, I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity of many varied placements meaning I can explore a wealth of learning opportunities. Personally I have been so lucky with all my placements and had some fantastic mentors along the way which makes starting a new placement slightly easier. However, the dread of starting a new placement gets me every time, it’s just like starting a new job but slightly worse (in my view). All the theory and practical skills you have learnt seems to leave you over night and you start doubting your own ability.

Right from the initial phone call to the ward I get butterflies in my stomach, I’m not even a nervous person, so I really don’t understand where this comes from. I want to sound confident on the phone, but not too confident, so hopefully they don’t think I’m a cocky student nurse who thinks he knows it all. So I then book a visit, the butterflies now intensify…….I get to the ward and walk away back down the corridor to recompose myself. Seriously what is wrong with me….I’m never like this and this happens every time. I then go onto the ward, meet the ward manager/my mentor and I settle down into my normal self….but I’m still thinking don’t come across as that arrogant student nurse!

The weeks and days pass and the excitement of starting a placement builds, I try and read up on areas surrounding my placement and iron my uniform ready for my first day. If we take a flash back to my first ever placement, I was like a quivering wreck, I felt I’d forgotten everything that I had learnt, my heart was pounding, my hands shaking…again what is wrong with me, I never feel like this. Even going into my third year and thinking about placements, I get nervous, I get the butterflies….

Then the other day it hit me. I feel like this because I treat every placement as a job interview, an opportunity to develop my skills, meet new people and more importantly get closer to becoming a great nurse. Who knows, the nurses and health care assistants I work with could be my colleagues, my boss or in fact I could one day be their boss.
This is the time of year that a large majority of student nurses start their journey and my advice around placements and combatting nerves would be as follows.

What’s the time old saying, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail (or something like that). Make sure you ring your placement in advance, research your placement, think about who from the multidisciplinary team you could spend time with and choose some learning outcomes you want to achieve.

Notebook and pen
Make sure you have a notebook and pen at hand so you can jot down anything you don’t understand or to make sense of those millions of acronyms. I personally have two different colour ones, one I use for acronyms, questions and other information, while I use the other one for understanding medication (still need to learn a lot there).

Get involved
Get involved in everything you can. Ask to do things, if they say no ask again at a different time. Use your initiative, find jobs to do, talk to patients and relatives, ask for jobs, show you want to learn.

Personal care
I bang on about this all the time when I meet new students. This is so important and if a nurse that you work with is not doing it you should definitely ask why. The reason I say it’s so important, is that sometimes it’s the only chance that you get to spend some real time with some of your patients. It’s a great opportunity to talk to them, engage in questions and see how they really are.

For everyone starting out on their nursing journey good luck and I hope these hints and tips help, for the other students and perhaps nurses, this might be a good chance to reflect on your own practice and make a change.

(Andrew Haydon – student nurse) 

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