To give you an insight into what it's really like, watch the film of Lana on her placement and read Amy’s lowdown on her placement experience.

 Amy's story: A Child Nursing student on placement

A shift will typically begin at 7.30am, so you will arrive about 5-10 minutes early especially if it’s your first shift as you will want to meet your mentor before you go into handover. At 7.30am, handover will begin and the nurse in charge of the previous shift will run through each patient on the ward. After this the nurse in charge of your shift will allocate patients to each nurse (between 2 and 6 patients depending on the dependency of the ward you’re working on) and you may then receive a more detailed handover from the nurse that was looking after these patients.

At around 8am, along with your mentor you will introduce yourself to all your patients and do the bed space checks to make sure every patient has working emergency equipment at their bed space. You will also check their folders and make a plan for the shift with your mentor so you know when every patient is due a feed, medication, observations, or any scans or operations they’re having that day etc.

8am is also around the time that a ward will start a drug round so it’s important as a student that you try to do as many of these as you can to learn your medication administration skills. At this point if you have any patients for theatre it’s important to make sure their theatre checklists are done and they’re prepped for theatre.

After you have made sure all your patients and their parents (most children will have a parent stay overnight with them) are awake and have had breakfast you can start the bed baths/baby baths on any immobile patients. If parents are present it is important to negotiate nursing cares, like feeding, washing and giving medicines, with them as part of family-centred care.

Around 10am doctors will start the ward round. When they get to your patients try and have the 10am observations completed and stay to see what the doctor’s plan is – discharge, continue same treatment or more investigations. After this you will usually sit down with your mentor to discuss your patients and who will do what. As a student you will often be asked to take patients and their parents down to theatre, stay while the child is anesthetised and then bring the parents back to the ward and explain what happens next and comfort them.

The rest of the shift consists of observations and reporting back to your mentor, filling in fluid balance charts, answering the phone, helping doctor’s to take blood and cannulate distressed children, passing and setting up nasogastric feeds, bottle feeding babies, changing nappies, admissions, discharge, helping out and observing other members of the multi-disciplinary team (such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists), and practice drawing up medications with your mentor.

As a student you can usually take your breaks when you want but most of the time if you go opposite your mentor then there’s always someone looking after your patients who they know. If there is any a point when the patients you are looking after with your mentor are all up to date with their cares then you help out other nurses with their jobs, fill in your placement book, arrange visits to other areas like theatre or outpatient clinics, or go and play with the children that are bored or don’t have any visitors.

At the end of the shift your mentor may ask you to write in the patient notes and they can then check and counter sign them. Together you will update the handover sheet for the next shift and your mentor may then ask you to give handover to the next nurse caring for your patients.