• 22 September 2020
  • 12 min read

7 Tips For Preparing For Your Placement

  • Zara Zaman
    Adult Nurse
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Matt Farrah
    • Richard Gill
    • Melissa Agbonlahor
    • Mat Martin
  • 0
  • 778
Play video: "Clinical placements are so important, but it can be such a scary thing if you really don't know what to expect."

If you’re not sure what to expect about your upcoming placement, Adult Nurse and trained mentor, Zara, gives a run-through of her top tips to get you ready for your next Nursing placement.

Topics covered in this article

0.00 Introduction

Tip 1. (0.51) Make Contact And Familiarise Yourself With Your Placement

Tip 2. (4.28) Don’t Mix Your Personal Life With Your Professional Life

Tip 3. (5.20) Be Organised And Punctual

Tip 4. (7.15) Ask Lots Of Questions

Tip 5. (7.56) Never Miss A Learning Opportunity

Tip 6. (8.56) Keep On Track With Your Clinical Hours

Tip 7. (9.43) Look After Your Health

0.00 Introduction

Hello everyone, and welcome back to my YouTube channel.

It is Nurse Zara here, and today's video is going to be all about my top tips for you guys going on your clinical placement.

Today I'll be sharing with you my top tips as someone who was a former Student Nurse, and also someone who is now a trained mentor and actually supervising Student Nurses going into practice.

Tip 1. (0.51) Make Contact And Familiarise Yourself With Your Placement

Clinical placements are so important, but it can be such a scary thing if you really don't know what to expect.

The first thing that you need to do to prepare for your placements is to contact your clinical placements.

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The moment you receive information of where your next placement is going to be, drop them an email and introduce yourself:

"Hi, my name is Zara. I am a Student Nurse in my first, second or third year, and I'm going to be starting my placement in your clinical area on such and such date. It will be great if I could receive my off duty or if I could arrange a time to come see the ward".

Very simple.

The whole point of this is A, to of course introduce yourself, and B, to let the placement know that they are expecting your arrival.

Now, I'm not talking about they're going to start rolling out a red carpet.

Oh, please.

Now, that would be the life.

If for any reason you cannot get into contact via email, arrange a time to physically go and visit your clinical area.

That is a great way to introduce yourself.

Ask for the ward manager or even for the senior sister or the band 6 on the ward and introduce yourself.

And especially for those of you who are in final year, this is going to be your final placement.

This is potentially going to be your prospective employer.

Making that initiative from the get-go creates a brilliant impression.

My second top tip of preparing for your placements is to familiarise yourself with the specialty of your placement.

This is a very big mistake a lot of students make.

The first question I always ask a student who I am allocated to mentor is, are you aware of what we do on the ward?

And the worst possible answer you can give me is, "Oh, I have no idea. I just know that I was assigned here and I'm going to be here for six or eight weeks".

It's not a good thing.

It does not create a good impression.

It kind of just shows that you're not really interested in the work that we do here.

And that's not really what you want to do.

So familiarise yourself with the placement specialty.

And this can be a ward base, this can be a community base, this can be clinics, this can be GP Nursing.

For example, your next placement is going to be a General Practice Nursing placement, and you are going to be there for six weeks.

You have no experience of General Practice Nursing and that's okay.

But what you can do is one, find out what is General Practice Nursing.

Google it, ask someone, ask your lecturer, ask someone who you know works in a GP practice, ask you a GP. Hey, even ask your GP Nurse.

Understand the nursing role.

Number two, find out what kind of clinical skills you will be using within your placement.

That is so important because you will find that some placements you will not have the same exposure when you are based in others.

The third thing is find out your working hours.

Different placements will have different working hours.

In the wards, you would traditionally work long day shifts and nights, but in the community you will be most likely working short day shifts.

Now, I will just say, do not go to your placements expecting that you need to know everything because that's not what it's about.

You are there to learn.

But what I do mean to say, is by familiarising yourself with the work that you will do, you will gain far more from your placements and from your practice if you take those steps to understand what your placement is going to be teaching you and what it expects of you.

Tip 2. (4.28) Don’t Mix Your Personal Life With Your Professional Life

My next nursing tip, part of our competencies that we sign in our practice assessment document, we are actually assessed on how professional we are.

Please do not mix your personal life with your professional life.

So naturally, you're going to be developing good working relationships, hopefully, with your colleagues.

However, do not mistake that for then starting to speak about your personal issues with a nursing colleague.

It's not professional, and it can sometimes not work in your favour.

And of course, if there is anything that is troubling you, whereby your personal life is interfering with your placement, there are specific people for those kinds of things.

Don't start talking about, "Oh, the boyfriend's this, girlfriend's this".

Please don't start telling the nursing colleagues, and definitely don't start telling the patients about what you got up to last weekend or what you did last night.

Tip 3. (5.20) Be Organised And Punctual

My next top tip for preparing for your placement is to be organised and have the correct nursing essentials in place.

You want to be that Student Nurse that everyone's like, "Oh my God, she's so organised. I wish she was my Student Nurse".

That's what you want to be.

If you haven't already, check out my previous video on nursing essentials for your clinical placements.

In that video, I describe in detail all of the things that you will need when you go to your placements.

So definitely check it out.

Be punctual.

You are going to be working in a professional environment.

Never aim to be on time, always aim to be early.

I always got to my placements 30 minutes before we actually started the shift.

I know that sounds a bit crazy, and you're probably thinking, "Oh, my God. I’m missing out on 20 extra minutes of sleep".

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But there is nothing worse than being that student that is labelled as the one who's always late or the one who's never on time.

It leaves such a bad impression when students do not arrive on time.

Another point that I want to make about being punctual, in our profession we cannot afford to be arriving late to the wards.

And that's simply because of handover.

Handover is very essential in any field of healthcare.

Nursing, midwifery, doctors, so on.

If you miss even a second of handover, you could potentially be missing essential information for the patient that you are looking after, or your colleague is looking after.

And that is something you cannot afford to make.

Remember, we are looking after people who are very sick, and they are people who rely on us as Nurses to look after them.

I'm sure, as a patient, you would want to have confidence that your Nurse exactly knows what's going on with your care and going on with your treatment.

So please aim to always be early, don't aim to be on time.

Tip 4. (7.15) Ask Lots Of Questions

My next top tip is ask loads and loads of questions.

I love students who ask me loads of questions.

I know there are some mentors that are like, "Oh, look it up yourself and then get back to me".

Trust me, that's just an excuse because we don't know the answers.

It's not because we don't care.

Asking loads of questions means you're interested, it means you're inquisitive, it means you want to learn, and that is such a good impression to give.

So don't be afraid to ask questions.

And if you're faced in a situation where you can't ask a question, because maybe it's not appropriate timing, maybe an emergency has come up, write it down and then ask that question later.

Definitely ask those questions and don't be afraid to do that.

Tip 5. (7.56) Never Miss A Learning Opportunity

My next nursing tip is do not ever miss a learning opportunity.

The best time to learn is as a Student Nurse.

When you sit down with your mentor or your supervisor and you set the objectives that you wish to achieve in your placement, definitely explore going beyond the scope of the placement that you're in.

Don't feel that you just have to stay six to eight or 12 weeks within that ward and just learn the day-to-day basis of the ward.

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Take the initiative and look for opportunities that are going to help you in your practice.

For example, if you are placed in a surgical ward, go to theatres and see the surgical procedures they carry out.

Go to a pre-assessment clinic, go and shadow the Clinical Nurse specialist for trauma and orthopaedics for one day.

Go and shadow the physiotherapist for one day.

Go and visit the imaging department to see how they take X-rays or fractures or of emergency cases.

There is so much you can do.

Do not limit yourself.

Tip 6. (8.56) Keep On Track With Your Clinical Hours

My second to last tip is to keep on track with your clinical hours.

If there was one thing that I did really well as a Student Nurse, not to bag, I always kept really disciplined with my hours.

If I ever missed a shift because I was maybe not too well that day or an emergency had come up with my family, I would always make the initiative and arrange with my mentor for a new shift.

And that way, when it came down to counting up my hours at the end of placement, I was always on track.

Please do not fall behind on your placement hours.

It may be all right in the first year, but trust me, all of your clinical hour’s ads up.

We have to work a certain amount of hours as Student Nurses, and the last thing that you want to do is be short on hours and have to extend your placement when everyone is finished at the end of three years.

So that's really important.

Tip 7. (9.43) Look After Your Health

My final tip for preparing for your placements is look after your health.

Being a Student Nurse is not easy.

We are balancing so many different elements to our life and it can sometimes take its toll.

And in those moments, you need to prioritise your health, your mental health wellbeing.

Use your off days to rest.

Don't be afraid to have a lie in.

Don't be afraid to go out, put on a bit of makeup, or whatever you do that makes you feel good and spend time doing the things that you love.

Because when you're at work, you should be at work.

And when you're at home or when you're away from work, you need to be thinking about things that make you happy.

It took me a very long time to find this balance, but once I did, it made me embrace the shifts that I work a lot better.

I've always said, in order to look after others, we must first look after ourself in order to be the best advocates for our patients.

That is all from me.

I hope that you enjoyed this video.

I hope you have learned lots.

And if you've got anything else that you would like to add, feel free to leave your suggestions, leave your comments, leave your thoughts down below in the comment sections.

Remember to subscribe, like, comment, share, check out my Instagram page and my Facebook page.

I'll leave all the links below.

And yes, I will see you in my next video.

And those of you who are starting your placements, best of luck.

Take care, stay safe and I will see you in my next video.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on starting a placement and my tips - let's chat there!

Oh, and please Like this article to let me know you enjoyed it - thank you!

About the author

  • Zara Zaman
    Adult Nurse

My name is Zara and I am a NHS registered nurse. I am a surgical nurse by background and was recently redeployed to Intensive Care Unit to care for Covid-19 patients. I am now a trained mentor and actually supervising student nurses going into practice.

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About the author

  • Zara Zaman
    Adult Nurse

My name is Zara and I am a NHS registered nurse. I am a surgical nurse by background and was recently redeployed to Intensive Care Unit to care for Covid-19 patients. I am now a trained mentor and actually supervising student nurses going into practice.

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