Clinical placement is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking things you will do during your nursing degree. As I write this it is the night before my second, second year placement and it would be a lie to say I’m not nervous, because trust me I am, and I can probably speak for most of my class mates who are probably feeling just the same tonight!
What you can’t forget about placement while your swimming in an ocean of nerves is that this is the best opportunity for you to put into practice the things you have learnt during your theory classes and labs, and also an amazing chance to learn from those in the careers your working towards!
Your placements don’t expect you to know everything, but having a good basic knowledge of what you’re in for is good. I’m currently on a six week block of clinical, where I do three weeks in one placement, and then switch to three weeks in another placement, and one of the things I learnt very quickly is that what you read in textbooks and what you see in placement can seem different, but that’s ok because your Preceptors and Clinical Teaching Associates (CTA’s) are there to support you along the way.
Here are a couple of tips I have found useful through my first few placements
Eat a good breakfast!
I for one don’t love eating breakfast, I feel like its an adult thing I kind of have to do like paying bills, and setting my alarm for the morning, but on placement you are generally on the go all day, and you need that good start to the morning. My favourite is the most basic smoothie, made with coconut water, some form of frozen fruit and a banana and I’m ususally pretty good until lunchtime!
Not only can you share the cost of petrol and parking, you also have people to turn up with on your first day when you’re having a mild freak out and also have people who understand what your experiencing to have a bit of a debrief with at the end of the day, and this does wonders to preserving sanity.
Take a notebook that you can pop in your pocket.
There are a million things in a day that I see or hear and think to myself that’s something I need to know or would like to find out more about. It helps to write them down and then head home and consult our friend Google, using only reputable sources of course ;-)!
Never give up a learning opportunity
Everyday you will see and do new things, if you get the opportunity to try something new or watch a new skill take it with both hands, this is the way you learn on placement, and the way you can pick up the knowledge of your preceptor or other RNs on the ward.
Get a good sleep during your placement weeks.
I cannot explain how exhausted you feel after a day or a week on placement, I have honestly never slept better once I do get to bed. Don’t commit yourself to too many things in a week; instead prioritise what’s important. Placement is number one; work is usually number two and then everything just falls into place after that, your friends and family will understand!
Have fun and soak it all up!
You are of course training for a pretty serious career, but as that saying goes if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life! Placement is an opportunity to learn as much as you can from people who are doing the job you’re aspiring for!