Placement Survival Pack

The ‘Placement Survival Pack‘ can be read online below or can be downloaded as a pdf for printing from the above link.

Student Placement Survival Packnurse with clipboard


Message from Mary Cooke,

Placement Enhancement Project Staff Lead

Clinical placements provide 50% of your learning as a Student Nurse. You will have around 2,500 hours of clinical work, some based in School in the Clinical Laboratories, some in simulation, and others where nurses work in clinical settings both community (primary) and secondary care. There is detailed advice and guidance in the Course Handbook (online). Other advice is provided in sessions during your programme on theory days. Key information you may require are:

Obtaining support on Placement & issues related to practice learning, Raising concerns about clinical practice, Interim interview, Working with your Mentor, Long days, weekend working and night shift requirements & Health and Safety – including travel to and from placement.

The Course Team endeavour to support you via Karen Heggs (Academic Lead for Practice Learning) and the allocations office, and your Academic Adviser is a sound source of guidance – but the booklet and the on-line personal stories and blog posts will be of great help. You can help your peers by sending in material of your own and add to the wealth of information and advice from experienced colleagues. Tim Walton is the staff contact for your contributions or you can email suggestions to

About this Project:

To accompany this booklet we have developed an online blog that is run by nursing students from the University of Manchester. Here you will find useful guides and hear from students about their own experiences on placements; what went well and what didn’t. It will help you through what can be a nerve wracking time the start of your nursing journey. You will hear from students from each field and from each year as well as staff from the University, current Nurses and the wider field.

Please visit and have a good look around, read the blog posts and meet the rest of the project team. The aim of this project is to support our peers in enhancing their learning experiences whilst on placements during their time as a student nurse at the University of Manchester.  We plan to share ideas of what makes a ‘good’ placement and how to make the most of your time there in order to develop your student role further. Experienced student nurses will share their ideas about how to gain the best from clinical experience, whatever field they are in, and hopefully inspire and assist confidence-building for new students in relation to their role on placement.

This blog is an interactive project and we appreciate your help to continue to develop the site. If there is any information you found particularly helpful please let us know via the comments online and all suggestions are welcome for any topics you think should be covered; please get in touch via

Good Luck in your nursing journey, we hope you enjoy every minute of it and that this project helps you to make the most out of your time on placement!

Gina & Julia

Please note…

The project has been funded by the Learning Enrichment Fund: The University of Manchester Alumni; all participants are grateful for the opportunity provided.

The independent views and opinions expressed within this booklet and on the accompanying website are those of the student authors during their study for the BNurs (Hons) degree and are not necessarily those of The University of Manchester, the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work or the NHS.

All information within this booklet was correct at the time of printing, and should not be treated as an exhaustive or definitive source of information, but as a starting point for any issues or queries you may encounter during your time on the BNurs course. If unsure, it’s always best to contact your AA as the first port of call or refer directly to the course material on Blackboard.   

Illustrations by Paul Cooke –

Support on Placement:

If you have a problem on placement it’s important that you know who to contact for support, this flowchart will help you identify points of contact within placement and university to speak to about any placement issues you’re flowchart

It’s always best to keep in touch with your AA, whether it’s an issue with your own learning experience or regarding any incident you’ve observed. If you are not sure where to go with an issue your AA will be able to point you in the right direction.

If you’re concerned about meeting your placement outcomes or have queries about your learning in practice, discuss this with your mentor or your associate mentor if your placement has a team based mentorship style. There is space to record these additional meetings in your PAD as well as your initial, midway and end of placement meetings.

If your issue involves your mentor or you don’t feel able to talk to them, you can contact the PEF for your area in conjunction with your AA, this can offer a quicker, on-site resolution for difficult situations. There are also University Link Lecturers who liaise within each trust from the university to develop academic and practice links. Part of their role includes supporting students in clinical practice, particularly when clinical learning issues arise. PEFs also urge students to come forward with placement/mentorship issues and ideas when they arise, this will help them improve your experiences in practice while you are based in that area. However, even if you’re happy with your time in practice PEFs really appreciate honest feedback from your evaluations- this helps them maintain high standards and improve things for subsequent students at your placement.

If you’re worried about your own learning, it’s important to get in touch with someone to discuss this sooner rather than later. This enables you to work with your mentor and your AA to create an action plan to help you meet your learning objectives.

Details of the PEFs, ULLs and other people involved in student learning should be on the student noticeboard at your placement. You should also be given the name of your mentor when you ring up for your first shift and they should note their contact details down in your PAD when you have your initial induction meeting. The contacts page on the NMSW site is also a useful source of contact information-

The Role of the Student on Placement:

You are responsible for your own learning and should be able to demonstrate this to your mentor. Always be responsible for the maintenance and safe keeping of your documentation within confidentiality protocols. It’s a good idea to scan or photocopy your PAD entries and signatures regularly in case it gets lost! Make sure you contact your placement area around 2 weeks before starting to introduce yourself and make sure they’re expecting you! Ask for your mentor allocation, shift times, off-duty and ask any specific requirements (uniform policies etc…) and where/who to report to on your first day. If you’re a first year new to Manchester or in any stage of nursing career and have to go to a trust you’ve not been to before you may find it helpful to visit the placement area before starting; to plan your travel route  and ensure you can get there on time for early shifts. You may find the travel section useful for more information.

Mentors will have an expectation of you obtaining a certain degree of knowledge so meet your mentor as arranged in order to discuss your placement learning needs, objectives and perceived outcomes. Remember there is additional space in your PAD to record details of any meetings additional to your initial, mid-way and final interviews. Demonstrate that you are actively seeking information and learning opportunities throughout the placement. Your ward should have a copy of their student charter on display; this will outline in more detail what your mentor expects from you and what you can expect from your placement.

If you have any additional support plans in place such as, Occupational Health or the Disability Support Office that you have already completed with your AA, it is your responsibility to advise your mentor of any specific plans in place so they can support your learning from the beginning of your placement. You must inform your mentor of any situations you encounter that are beyond your level of competence and you also have a responsibility to discuss any areas of deficits encountered in your placement with your mentor, preferably before the end of their placement, so this problem can be addressed and rectified.  Initial and mid-way point meetings with your mentor are your opportunity to discuss and suggest your progress. Be prepared and plan in advance what you would like to raise at each point in your placement. Don’t be afraid to ask any kind of questions or suggest ideas for your learning opportunities. Ask other staff or peers if you are struggling for ideas. Make sure you refer to your learning objectives in your PAD document as well as your portfolio.


Excellence in Practice:

Mentors and the Ward Team often recognise students’ professionalism, their insightful ways of working or involvement with patients and carers at the bedside. There will be a letter of recommendation sent to recognise excellent practise if the School receives this from your mentor. You can also nominate your mentor or ward for a ‘Recognising excellence in Practice’ award via the university if they have gone above and beyond in facilitating your learning during placement. Some trusts also have their own in house awards to recognise excellent mentorship.

Making up Hours & Working Nights/Weekends on Placement:

It might be that you fall ill or are unable to make placement for personal reasons. As long as you have followed the correct procedure to inform both university and placement of your absence, you can make these hours back at a later stage. Some students may prefer to do an extra few hours on each shift, or you can arrange with university for an extension on time in placement in exceptional circumstances. For more information on this please check the appropriate blackboard area regards placement hours. The Practice Hours office can be contacted on 0161 306 7801 and you can liaise with your AA about how you plan to make up missed hours- but remember you shouldn’t work a high number of long days to accrue time off by ‘front loading’ your hours.

Guidance in the Programme Handbook outlines that there should be an educational advantage to you working more than the expected one long day per week and one weekend per month. It’s no longer mandatory to complete a set number of nights over the three years but you do need to be able to demonstrate you have had exposure to 24 hour care, some areas such as ICU or A&E can be just as busy at night so there will be loads of learning opportunities on nights. Night shifts on other wards can also offer a lot but it may be an idea to bring some work in or write reflections if there are lots of quiet periods.


If you are ill or likely to be late on shift, you should call your placement as a courtesy to let your mentor know you won’t be coming in, or will be late, you should also contact the School sickness and absence office by phone and email- their details can be found in the useful contacts list on the inside cover of this handbook.

If your mentor is ill or in annual leave during your time on placement you should work with an agreed other member of the team and they can feedback to your mentor when they return. Not all qualified Staff Nurses are mentors but you would usually have more than one mentor. If you know that your mentor will be away in advance you should arrange your shifts to work with an associate mentor or use this as an opportunity to arrange spokes. It’s also good to pre-arrange your meetings with your allocated mentor in case they have booked annual leave during your placement block.

It’s important to be assertive but professional in these meetings with your mentor, if you feel strongly about a certain issue related to your learning it’s important that you can articulate this to your mentor so you can meet the learning objectives you have outlined and get the most out of your placement. You need to be able to raise issues with your mentor but if you find the situation is getting heated or the meeting isn’t progressing/addressing these issues try to take a step back. You can always revisit a conversation in additional meetings or you could try discussing it with another member of staff such as your associate mentor or the department manager. Have a look at the ‘Support on Placement’ section for more details on who to contact if you experience mentorship issues and remember that you do have the right to negotiate a new mentor should there be extenuating circumstances.

Accountability and Responsibilities of the Mentor:

  • The mentor is to remain responsible for the patient/client group at all times.
  • They are also responsible for liaising with the student’s link tutor (ULL or AA) in the following circumstances:
    • If the student demonstrates unprofessional behaviour (as defined in the NMC Code of Conduct).
    • If the student fails to comply with local policies and procedures following extensive discussions/explanations of the same.
    • If the student, following negotiation with their mentor, continues to fail to meet the required targets or objectives.

This is outlined in the new NMC Code under 9.4; “support students’ and colleagues’ learning to help them develop their professional competence and confidence.”  The NMC guidance is that the students spend a minimum of 40% of their placement under the supervision (direct or indirect) of their mentor.  Therefore, the student does not need to be physically with their mentor for 40% of the time, as long as the mentor is in communication with the rest of the staff regards their performance etc. this is an acceptable format. A few areas now have a model of ‘team mentorship’ where several mentors will oversee students training as a team. Try to be as flexible as you can with hours to work with your mentor as much as possible but they should also try to accommodate your needs around shift patterns.

Trusts and PEFs:

Throughout the BNurs course you may find yourself allocated to placements across the whole of Greater Manchester. The four main boroughs for placement are; Trafford, Manchester, Tameside and Stockport. Placements can also include non-NHS areas including private hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes. It’s important to remember that there are some differences between trusts. Your experiences between different trusts may vary (for example; differences in Early Warning Scoring Systems) so it’s important to familiarise yourself with the trust policy when you start your placement. Guidance on this will usually be found in the student file at your placement or via the trust intranet.

It’s important to attend the Induction for your trust; they will cover important information such as fire safety, local trust policies, access to hospital intranet and details of any education events like student seminars, simulation suite sessions (not available for all hospitals and sometimes limited to 2nd & 3rd years only) and Inter-Professional Learning (IPL) workshops. They are generally mandatory but contact your PEF if you are unable to attend due to sickness or other circumstances and they may be able to accommodate you on a different session (they are generally run fairly regularly due to overlapping placement start dates for Manchester, Salford and MMU students.

Details of Induction dates can be found on Blackboard in the Practice Learning Gateway area, under the ‘Practice Placement Information’ tab. Note that UHSM don’t have a trust wide induction but will expect your mentor to cover the information in your initial meeting when you start placement.

It is important that you always fill in placement questionnaire both in placement and via the university web links that will be emailed to you. Please fill these in honestly as it will help to create a better learning environment for future students which will enhance their placement experience. The university ones are required as part of your portfolio checks so save and print a copy of these for PAD submission day.

allocation zone map

Travel Information:

Public Transport Routes:

The Main hospitals within the placement allocation zones are below, with a few travel notes if you are travelling by public transport and postcodes for sat-navs, links to the hospital’s own travel page are also included for more detailed travel information.

Trafford General  

Bus services from various locations include 245, 247, 256, 268, 276, 277, 278, X58- these all stop on Moorside Rd outside the hospital. M41 5SL
North Manchester General   

Bus services from various locations include 42 (cross connect service), 52, 53, 88/89, 115/116, 118, 149, 151, 154, 156. M8 5RB
The Christie   

Bus services from various locations to the Wilmslow Rd entrance include: 42, 42A, 142, X57, 84, (169, 178). To the Palatine Rd entrance: (41, 43, 48, 140, 143, (370). Bus routes in brackets don’t pass the hospital directly but pass nearby. The West Didsbury metrolink station is also a short walk away. M20 4BX

Direct services include 109, 105, 104.

The 101 bus stops close to the A&E entrance but not at the main hospital bus stop and is often the fastest bus. These routes begin at Piccadilly and go along princess parkway.

From Fallowfield the 43 bus to the airport stops at Wythenshawe bus station and connecting services to the hospital include 11, 178, 19, 368, 268 (104, 177- evenings only).

Roundthorn metrolink station is also close by.

M23 9LT
Withington Community Hospital   

43, 143, 101, 104, 111, 99, 179 buses all stop nearby and the West Didsbury tram stop is close. M20 2LR
Manchester Royal Infirmary (Child field students will receive a minimum of 1 placement allocation to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on the same site)  

MRI is walking distance from the main university campus, any buses with the number 40 will pass the front entrance (147, 142, 143, 42, 43…) and the number 50 bus will pass the back A&E entrance on Upper Brook Street M13 9WL
Tameside General  

Pennine Care Trust for MH students, based on the same site.

Hartshead South entrance buses: 217, 218, 231.

Hartshead North entrance buses: 217, 218, 220, 231, 239, 350, 387, 389, s50. 408. Ashton-under-Lyne & Stalybridge train stations are nearby.

Stepping Hill  

Buses include 192, 173, and TP services.

Woodsmoor train station is also a 10 minute walk away from the hospital.


This is not an exhaustive list and useful travel resources with times these services run at include:

Please remember the information in this booklet was correct at the time of printing but public transport services are subject to change, please double check this information before you end up lost on your first day! Hopefully this information will be a useful starting point for those of you new to Manchester, many people also find it useful to have a trial run to time your journey and find where you’re going to prepare for your first day!

Please also remember to travel safely on your way to placement; it can often be very early in the morning or late at night and may be dark during your winter commutes. Where possible travel in two’s or buddy up with people at your placement, there is a wiki page on Bb to organise car-pooling (extra petrol allowance can be claimed from NHS bursaries for car sharing), it also pays to invest in a good bike lock and some hi-vis gear if you are cycling to placement.

Placement Parking Information:

Trafford General £1.25 per week, pay in cash at the parking office.
North Manchester General


No parking available on site for students. Nearby street parking is available.
The Christie


Currently no parking on site and there are restrictions on parking on certain nearby residential streets but building works are underway for extra parking at time of printing
Wythenshawe Permits available from the security lodge for £5 per month; you’ll need your mentor/ward manager to complete a form.
Withington Community Hospital


Student car parking passes are available when you collect your ID badge for £5 per month.
Manchester Royal Infirmary, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, St Mary’s & the Eye Hospital £10.80 per month, you can get this via Fill this out in advance as it can take around 2 weeks to receive your permit.
Tameside General/ Pennine Care Trust £30 monthly passes are available for students.
Stepping Hill £5 per month permits are available, can be obtained from the Rowan Unit (debit cards taken).

If you are eligible for an NHS bursary you can also claim back travel expenses for your travel to and from placement, expenses forms are available on Blackboard in the Practice Learning Gateway under ’Practice Learning Forms’. You will need your Bursary coversheet to send off with it and your AA needs to sign it- it’s a good idea to bring these with you to PAD submission day and get them all signed off in one go. You can claim extra petrol allowance if you car pool with other students- you just need to put their bursary reference number on your claim form but bear in mind that if the distance you travel into university is greater than your commute to placement you may not be able to claim- for more details log into your bursary account at

Placement Assessment Document (PAD) and Learning Objectives:

Make sure you have read your PAD thoroughly before starting placement. This will help guide you in setting your learning objectives in your first meeting/discussion with your mentor. Bear in mind that different universities have a different PAD layout and they may not be familiar with your paperwork, it’s your responsibility to ensure you have all the required sections and signatures filled in.

Learning Objectives – Once you have found out where your placement is, find out what you can about it. In the first few days think about and discuss with your mentor what you feel your learning objectives could be that are applicable to your placement and surrounding areas of nursing. There should be a student file on site you can use for ideas as this should provide information about your placement.  You can also use these objectives to help you explore areas of personal interest, for example if you are interested in a career in a particular field and want to find out more about it, but always try to link it back to the theme of your main placement area and related outcomes.


Take your portfolio in to placement and discuss with your mentor. You can discuss what objectives you will be able to meet with your mentor. This will help guide you towards writing reflections and gaining information to use as well as earmarking skills you will be able to practice for your mentor to sign off.

Gather evidence of learning you have undertaken to support your portfolio. Blank spoke and generic reflection templates are available on Bb; it’s useful to have a few blank copies to keep with your PAD so you can fill some out while on placement if you have a spare minute or if you’re reflecting after a particular experience. Peer mentors will arrange portfolio workshops to help you make a start with compiling your portfolio and your AA will be able to answer any specific portfolio queries.

nurse at desk


A spoke is an opportunity for you to spend a few hours or a full day with another department linked to your current placement. Most placements should have information of relevant spokes in the student file available on site, feel free to arrange your own outside of this list but be aware that you mentor may ask you to justify the link between the spoke and your hub placement!

Specialist nurses are great to arrange spokes with and are generally really keen to have students to learn more about their specialist role. Working with other health professionals also helps you gain a wider experience of how a multi-disciplinary team work together; Occupational therapy, Podiatry, Physiotherapy, Radiology, Pharmacy, Speech & Language Therapists (SALT) etc… are all great departments to arrange a spoke with. Spokes are also a handy way for you to meet cross-field learning outcomes for your portfolio; patients of any age can experience mental health problems, MH service users may also have physical co-morbidities, some practice areas such as health visiting look at the both health of mother and baby and other units may deal with a wide age range of patients (like the Palatine ward at The Christie which has both adult and paediatric nurses)- Think about which areas of your current placement cross over into other fields and arrange a spoke to explore these areas in more depth. You can also arrange to ‘shadow’ senior staff and managers by prior arrangement. This gives insight into how the NHS is run, decisions made and funded (or not).

You should ring and arrange the spoke at a suitable time (within usual placement hours) for you and your mentor. Ideally if your mentor is not on shift or on holiday so it doesn’t cut into your time working with your main mentor. If you’ve booked your spoke far in advance it’s useful to reconfirm with them the day prior to ensure everything is still ok as planned. This is also advisable if you’ve made the arrangements with someone at the spoke who isn’t the person you’ll be working with on the day to let them know they’ll have a student that day. Some spokes are very high demand or only have a small capacity for students so it’s good to plan which spokes you’d really like to do early on to ensure you get chance to visit there during your placement.

Take your PAD with you to your spokes as they will need to fill in the spoke page to say you have attended and may also need to sign your hours for that day. It’s a good idea to write up a reflection of your spoke for your portfolio if suitable.

Your trust will also have seminars and workshops available for students you should be told about these at your trust induction, you may also notice them advertised on noticeboards or screensavers around the hospital or you can contact the PEF who will be happy to give you the dates and how to sign up to these events. For most trusts, students should now receive emails directly about events like this during their time at that trust.


Whistleblowing is the raising of concerns about a risk, danger or malpractice which affects others. This could be an issue that affects patients, the public, your colleagues or the organisation that you work for.  (NMC, 2015)

The ‘Support on Placement’ section gives some situations when you may want to contact people regarding placement issues such as mentorship issues and the general learning environment. If you are worried about raising concerns, or want to talk through what is involved in the whistleblowing process, you can call the NMC contact centre on 020 7637 7181 who can advise you or there are some other useful numbers listed below. Even if you feel something is only a minor concern it’s best to talk things over with your AA about anything that is worrying you on placement and they can help guide you if you need to take things further.

However, there are some instances when you must contact somebody, such as preserving safety. You must always…

  • Make sure that patient and public safety is protected.
  • Work within the limits of your competence, exercising your professional ‘duty of Candour’ and raising concerns immediately whenever you come across situations that put patients or public safety at risk.
  • Act without delay if you believe that there is a risk to patient safety or public protection. Raise concerns immediately if you believe a person is vulnerable or at risk and needs extra support and protection

Contact numbers:

·         NHS Whistleblowers helpline – 08000 724 725

·         NMC Council – 020 7637 7181

·         Care Quality Commission – 03000 616161

·         National Patient Safety Agency – 020 7927 9500

·         Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care – 020 7389 8030             

·         The NMC Raising Concerns document can be found at

A part of the code of conduct and your fitness to practice, it’s really important that you report any bad practice you witness in placement. There is a wealth of support and guidance for whistleblowing from both within the university and from various professional regulatory bodies. If you are a member of a union, you may also find they have advice and support for members involved in whistleblowing.


Other useful Information:

Placement Change Requests and the Allocations Process:

There is a placement change request process; however this is only open to you for five working days following the release of your placement allocation.  Placement change requests are to be submitted online via the Practice Learning Community Gateway in Blackboard. Please note that placement change requests are to be submitted for exceptional circumstances only – guidance is available via the Practice Learning Community Gateway on Bb.


We just wanted to remind you that if you are facing financial difficulty during the extended semester, you may want to consider applying to the Manchester Hardship Fund. More information regarding the Manchester Hardship Fund and the eligibility can be found at: as well as information on the Students Unions emergency loan.

If you have any questions regarding the Manchester Hardship Fund, you can contact the student support intern on or email the Manchester Hardship Fund team directly on


It’s important to understand that sometimes we can have such overwhelming personal difficulties that cause absences or inability to work; it can affect our health and perspectives. Your AA and others in the BNurs Course team will become aware of such issues and you could be asked to meet up for a discussion, please go to this. Your case may be discussed with you at Progress Panel meetings too – if you have not managed to pass a series of assignments or specific placement learning objectives.

You should always be aware that your AA is there to support you, and not to make judgements if you are open and honest about the possible or probable reasons for your difficulties. You will be asked for evidence of these reasons so that mitigation can be considered. Often assistance is granted before Progress Committee, so you can extend your placement for making up hours, or have planned re-take dates.

In the event that your circumstances are such that it may be advisable to interrupt study on the course for a year, this is agreed with you by your AA and the Cohort Lead. You will have a planned return which balances your needs. The Course Team want you to have a successful outcome, and not lose you to illness or other catastrophe.

We hope you find this useful and welcome any feedback, you can get in touch with us at or via the comments box on the home page. We hope you enjoy all your placements and make the most of the amazing opportunities they have to offer!