When I started my nursing degree, I was prepared to be a quiet observer. During my first placement, I did exactly that. I listened, learned, and did what was asked of me. I wasn’t exactly useful to the team, but they liked having me around. Now on my second placement with district nurses, this has changed drastically. I feel useful. There is a slight superstitious joke that I have healing powers, since a lot of patients that I visit (with different nurses) have lovely healed wounds. But maybe it’s that whoever takes me gets an extra of mileage to claim back whilst I’m in the car…
Anyway, because of this popularity, I’m starting to see how valuable students are to placements. This week I’ve been helping recreate the caseload map. Due to my computer skills (always knew that ICT GCSE would come in handy), I was being HELPFUL.
Students are also useful for those more time-consuming patients. We have a lot of patients who need a two layer bandage on each leg, often due to oedema and ulcers. Now since a two-layer bandage requires a reasonable amount of time and effort, it’s always handy to have a second person. I recently visited a man who required two-layer bandaging on both legs, and had a suspected gangrenous toe! It was good that I was there as the nurse I was helping could take time to phone the relevant people, whilst I finished the bandaging and took notes. It makes the visits more efficient!
I’ve also noticed that I am often the eyes and ears, both in the office and with patients. So I will pick up something which one nurse might not have remembered, or wasn’t there during that visit. So I’ll often pipe up during handover saying “oh that patient needs a new sharps bin!”. It’s not groundbreaking or life saving stuff but it helps.
Although sometimes it can be frustrating because you are ‘just a student’, remember that this is such a valuable time. Not only are we learning hands on, but our education comes from how much you are willing to get stuck in with! Be brave, bring your skills to the table and you’ll get more out of every placement you go to.