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Careers Education

Tips for student nurses on how to prepare for clinical placement

After six weeks of your nursing course, you could be sent to clinical placement. This first experience may be daunting, but it could be one of the critical building blocks of your career if you are well prepared for it. The most important aspect is confidence. Most students become nervous and scared on their first placement, which is quite normal as you will be encountering the hospital environment for the first time. It can be terrifying, depending on the nature of patients and the state of wards you come across.

The fact that you are immediately tasked with various responsibilities does not help either. Most nursing students are often extremely worried. Will a patient die in my hands? How will I handle an emergency? While it is natural to be nervous, you can employ some of the tips below to help you prepare for your placement.

Make contact and familiarize yourself with your placement

The nursing course requires that a student attends clinical placement as part of the training. It is a first-time encounter for every student, and not many look forward to this experience. Before your placement, the best thing to do is to reach out to your clinical placement and familiarize yourself with what to expect. The relevant individuals will provide you with pertinent information on the environment you will visit. Ask for specific officials, such as the ward manager, and speak to them directly. Such personnel are more suited to give you first-hand experiences, unlike individuals in the administration who may not be sure about the specific roles you will be required to undertake.

Aim to familiarize yourself with the placement specialty. It can be disorienting if you arrive at your placement and do not know what goes on in the wards. This gives your supervisors a wrong impression of your ethics and professionalism. Some common placement specialties you can contact include GP nursing, clinics, community base and ward base.

Never miss a learning opportunity

As a nursing student, learning never stops. Every moment you sit down with your supervisor or mentor, ask questions and get clarification on the things you don’t understand. Do not confine yourself to the daily responsibilities allocated to you for the period you will spend at the placement. Look for more opportunities associated with your practice. During your free time, you can take up relevant online courses that can help boost your portfolio. For instance, you can take up a University of Indianapolis MSN-AGPCNP program, which is an excellent master’s degree designed to accommodate working nurses. If you plan to specialize in adult-gerontology primary care, then it is never too early or too late to get started.

Do not mix your personal and professional life

Note that in your placement, you will be required to sign a practice assessment document allowing your supervisor to rate your professional conduct. Students must therefore exhibit high levels of professionalism and avoid bringing up personal issues. It helps you to sustain a good working relationship with other workers. Being too personal with your colleague or patient may work against you. If you have an issue with your placement, identify the proper authorities and inform them.

Ask a lot of questions

While your first placement is a totally new experience, you should grab the opportunity to gain more experience by asking questions. Your mentors will answer most of them and probably ask you to look up more information from other sources. Students who ask questions give an impression of being interested in their work and willing to learn. Never shy away from getting clarification where necessary. In circumstances such as emergencies, it is impossible to ask questions. In this case, write down the issue, and you can ask about it later.

Keep on track with your clinical hours

As a nursing student, keeping track of your clinical hours is crucial. Do not miss your shifts unless it’s an issue beyond your control. Even then, ensure that you liaise with your supervisor to create a new shift for you. Such discipline will guarantee an accurate count of hours when you complete your placement. The nursing profession is similar to aviation – your experience is calculated based on the hours you have practiced. It would be very unfortunate if you were asked to stay behind and complete your hours at the end of your study when everyone else is done with their placements.

Take care of your health

Practicing as a nurse is definitely not an easy task. Unfortunately, the work environment involves handling patients, which exposes you to various diseases. It is your primary responsibility to take care of your health. Apart from physical health, it would help if you also prioritize your mental health. During your free days, spend some hours resting. Allocate some time to enjoy your hobbies. Once you strike a balance between work and pleasure, you will be in a better position mentally and physically to take care of others.

Be organized and punctual

The nursing profession requires a high level of organization. Being organized gives you peace of mind as it helps you carry out your duties diligently. Everybody, including your supervisor, will appreciate it, and such soft skills add to your professional score apart from endearing you to other colleagues. Punctuality is also essential in any professional setting. Always aim to be at your placements a few minutes before your shift. Remember that you need to be available in time for the handover. If you are late, you could miss out on critical data of a patient you ought to look after. Patients will also feel confident about the services of a punctual nurse.

Final thoughts

Nursing is a noble profession that trains individuals to care for vulnerable people in society. Placement is essential to the course because it provides nurses with hands-on experience of handling patients. We have highlighted various aspects to consider while preparing for placement. If you are a new student, these tips will help you build confidence as your first placement approaches.

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