I have just finished my first week on a placement I wasn’t really looking forward to but am happy to say that it is way better than I thought it would be. It is a slightly slower pace on this ward than what I have had previously, but the difference is that there is more time to be taught and talk to nurses and health care assistants about stuff! I think I got used to making my own way on the ward which, due to how busy the ward and staff are and the acuity of the patients, probably isn’t the most accurate way of learning how to nurse. However, I think in the first year it is a good lesson in thinking on your feet and using your common sense. My first placement (which seems so long ago now and was only last year!) I made lots of silly mistakes but this is a good learning curve, if a little steep and embarrassing!
As I mentioned above, I wasn’t looking forward to this placement. I didn’t think that I would find the area interesting and I was convinced that I enjoyed running around like a headless chicken on a busy ward as this ward is a bit quieter. However, so far so good and I have enjoyed being able to be actively taught how to do clinical skills, rather than being shown quickly. Even though I am second year student, I have appreciated that the nurses still explain the rationale behind clinical skills and interventions.
I am very much a team player and happy to help with anything on the ward. Even though I am there to learn, I also think it is really important to hone my “people skills” and work collaboratively. So I don’t begrudge making a bed or cleaning equipment. I have heard and been told by nurses that they have had trouble with some students refusing to do simple tasks as these as it’s not what they are there for. I understand from that point of view if you are only making beds and cleaning and not doing anything patient related (and then you should escalate your situation to appropriate people) but really if a bed needs to be made you might as well make it! Think of it this way – it is still a part of patient care to make a bed. Also, everyone on the ward is part of a wider team to put patients and their families/carers first. If you aren’t willing to do the simple things to help your colleagues, then how are you going to support them properly when you are asked to do clinical nursing tasks? My one piece of advice for anyone who is going on placement is that you should value all staff members on the ward. I have been saved many a time from doing something silly (like trying to microwave a bottle of milk on my second ever day of my first placement) by the domestic staff!
Have you met or heard students complaining about having to do menial tasks? Or are you one of them that feel you shouldn’t be doing it at all? Have you thought about talking to staff who aren’t nurses?