Placement: the beginnings

It’s D Day, the date the location of your next placement is released. You open the email/document/website and search for your next allocation and voila!

Placement are often a random affair and can range from primary to tertiary care, A&E to a nursing home and aren’t always something we’re necessary interested in. I obviously can only speak for my own course, but you have to take whatever you’re allocated and run with it.

Step 1: cheer, cry, whatever works for you when you see your allocation.

Step 2: be positive. This could be an amazing opportunity to see a new style of nursing, new nursing assessments and meet a whole range of patients/clients that you might not meet anywhere else.

Step 3: start doing a bit of research around the area. If it’s a speciality placement, look up the conditions and current evidenced based treatments. Research the role of that specific nursing job and the impact they have on their patients.

Step 4: contact the placement. I’ve no idea if different programmes have different guidelines, but my university stipulate a minimum of two weeks before placement start to make contact. Some areas will invite you in for a intro and a tour, some will give you a rota right off the bat, some you will have to fight tooth and nail to get offduty (always inform your tutor if this is an issue). If is a good opportunity to find out about the facilities at your placement area: is there a cafe? do I need to bring lunch? where are the toilets? what’s the code for the door?

Step 5: mandatory training. Each area will have their own training for every little thing, some may want you to do extra safeguarding or manual handling etc, but hopefully they’ll let you know all of this before hand. Most placements now work off electronic systems and it’s a great idea to get your access all in place before you start so you can hit the ground running. If you need any kind of ID/swipe card/smart card, try and organise this beforehand as well.

Step 6: enjoy it. Placements will always fly by, and remember that once you’ve qualified it’s highly unlikely that you will ever get to spend time with different teams and specialities unless you get a job in that area. Make the most of the time you get with your patients and start building up your skills, they are all vital.

Step 7: work with EVERYONE: HCA’s, AP’s, nurses, doctors, physios, OT’s, pharmacists, ODP’s, radiographer’s – they can all teach you something and every role is vital in the patient’s ‘journey’ through the weird and wonderful world that is healthcare.

Step 8: report. If you have any issues at all or see something that’s not right, don’t stay quiet about them. I realise this is sometimes very difficult, but speak to your mentor, the ward/area manage, your tutor, placement-university links or anyone else.

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