It's vitally important for students to apply theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom to patients or clients within a practice-based setting.
That’s why most of our courses offer an equal split between placement and class-based study.
To give you an insight into what it's really like, read Deborah’s lowdown on her placement experience.
Deborah's story: An Adult Nursing student on placement
Nursing requires long hours with early starts, some might find the added travel time makes for a very long day but when you’re taking care of your patients, making decisions that have a big impact on their treatment or holding their hand and helping them through a difficult moment, the time seems less significant and you get absorbed in the role of being a nurse.
Whether you’re on a ward or in a community based placement your shift will invariably start with handover. This is an opportunity to learn a bit more about the patients under your care: why they’ve come in to hospital and the plan for them in the future. Having a notebook to hand so you can write down any abbreviations or conditions you don’t understand means you can ask your mentor about them and improve your knowledge base. After handover a shift on a ward really comes alive. Whether you’re administering medications with your mentor, assisting serving and feeding breakfast to patients who need a little extra support or starting to help patients with their personal hygiene needs, you’re going to be busy! Each ward varies and each day varies: with admissions and discharges, differing specialities and changes in an individual patient’s condition you can never assume that one shift is going to be the same as the previous. You have to listen to your mentor, use your own skills and knowledge appropriately and work with the team around you to adapt to the changing needs of your group of patients.
There are always so many tasks to be done: drawing up intravenous (IV) medications, changing dressings using aseptic non-touch technique, skin inspections, nursing documentation, observations, escalating concerns or requests to the doctors, accompanying patients to imaging department, attending ward rounds or MDT meetings, working with specialist nurses and other members of the MDT on the ward or in clinic. The list is endless and sometimes you can even be surprised by the things you do to support the health, comfort and independence of your patients.
As the day progresses you will get opportunities to ask questions, of your mentor and of the patients themselves. With long term conditions, the patients or their carers are often best placed to help you learn more about their conditions. Some patients may be upset about being in hospital or due to a recent diagnosis, taking the time to sit with them and listen to what they have to say is richly rewarding for both patient and student.
Nurses don’t just work on wards and each different place of work will have their own routine. You may work in a GP surgery or visit patients in their own homes but the principles of the care you offer and the attitude you show should be the same. Each shift as a student nurse is an opportunity to learn something new and to grow and develop into your role.