I walk into my new placement for the first time and introduce myself “hello my name is Jess, I’m a third year student nurse, I’m really looking forward to working with you guys over the coming weeks”. You can see the cogs whirring, the expectations of a third year are a lot higher than that of a first or second year. Of course they are, you’re nearing qualification, or so they think. The flaw here with me is, yes I am a third year, but I am not a final year student nurse. I am a dual field student nurse who has been learning the specialities and complexities of two fields over the past two and a bit years and it’ll take me four years before I’m able to qualify. It’s a bit of a mash up, which I love, but it also leaves us feeling a bit alien to the traditional student nurse.
Now, I don’t want anyone reading this to think I am unhappy with my course. Far from it! I have finally reached that magical point in my training where I am not identifying as an ‘Adult’ or a ‘Mental Health’ student nurse, I am identifying as a dual field student nurse. However, being dual field still isn’t widely known out in practice.
I really don’t like letting people down, and when I see a practice area which is stretched to the limit and could do with having a final year student nurse to help the team out (I know we’re supernumerary, but let’s face it that isn’t always the case), I hate to burst their bubble. I am a keen and quick learner, you show me once, you watch me once, I can then do… is usually my way of picking up skills. But at the same time, if I don’t understand why I am doing something or don’t feel confident doing so I am more than confident enough to say no, please could you show me again so I can learn.
Students often talk about the struggles of second year, and I certainly did not escape it. During the final semester of second year my hands cracked so badly due to stress, not over washing. As a dual field student nurse I have to do second year twice. But I hope that the coping skills and support network that I called upon will help me through this year too.
Being dual field, we do bring a different skill mix to settings which aren’t what our University Practice Placement Team would call ‘blended’; these skills are usually very well received. For example, I love being able to show staff on the Inpatient Mental Health Unit my wound dressing skills, and vice versa, I am able to question care plans for patients on the Surgical Ward when their psychological needs aren’t considered as much as their physical health needs. I love being a dual field student nurse, and I can’t wait to qualify and get out there.
If there are any other dual field student or registered nurses out there, I’d love it if you could reach out to us at #StNProject – I’d love to create a community where we can share experiences and support.
Written by Jessica Sainsbury (@JessLSainsbury), third year Adult and Mental Health Nursing Student at University of Southampton.