Laura Greaves, 2nd Year Adult Nursing student (@laurastunurse)
For some of my fellow nursing students, the start of a new placement is a time of excitement. For me, it’s a time full of dread. I worry about having to meet new people in an unfamiliar area; I worry about what the journey will be like and where I will have to park; I worry about being late on my first day. I worry about the first handover and not understanding some of the technical language and words being used. I worry that I won’t get on with my mentor; I worry that I’ll look like I don’t know what I’m doing.
It may sound trivial, but since I started my nursing programme, ‘new placement anxiety’ has impacted on my wellbeing. Every few months, the fear of the unknown comes around again, and I feel my anxiety levels rising.
So, how do I deal to cope with these worries? I’ve learnt that it’s all about preparation and planning. I email the placement area as soon as I know where I’m going, just to say hello and make sure they know I’m coming! I’ll try to get my shifts well in advance and find out who my practice supervisor is going to be. If they offer an induction, I always make a point of going – that way, the area will be a little more familiar when I start. I’ll have met some staff, seen the layout of the area – it all helps build an image of the placement and take away the uncertainty.
Even if there isn’t an induction, I like to do a dummy run, especially if the placement is in an area I haven’t been to before. This helps me know what time I need to leave home to get to shift, where the travel trouble spots might be and where the best parking is.
Finally, the first day arrives. I know who my mentor will be, and I’m armed with my first two weeks of shifts. I’ve figured out the best route to work and I know where to park. I’ve got the right identity badge, a parking permit in my windscreen and a packed lunch in my bag.
20 mins before the start of the shift I walk to the ward. I can feel my heart trying to jump out of my chest. Will I be good enough? Will the staff like me? Will the patients be happy with a student looking after them? Will I understand what is being asked of me?
Once I’ve started the shift though, I can stop over-thinking and start settling into a new routine. The staff seem friendly enough, my supervisor is interested in me, and the patients seem to warm to me. Though the area is new, the skills I’ve started to develop are still relevant and useful.
The first day comes to an end, and what have I learnt? I can get there on time; I can talk to people I don’t know; I can ask for – and get – help; I can still provide compassionate care to patients, even if I am ‘new’. Roll on day two!