NurseCarol
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🩺 Advice from Nursing Students and Graduates 🩺
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A lot of soon-to-be Nursing students (including myself!) are quite nervous about applying, whether its right for them, how to cope with aggressive patients, your first nursing placement! I have slowly been copying and pasting all the useful advice I've seen (perhaps a little creepy, but certainly useful!) And I thought, why not share this valuable advice I've compiled. So I'm going to drop the gathered advice in this thread (probably in spoilers to be neat). If you have any useful advice to add, or any burning questions to ask, feel free to drop them below, lets get the conversation started! Thank you everyone

(advice wasn't always directed at me, they are from various threads etc. and I plan to keep adding)

Advice about starting nursing placements (especially with no prior experience as a HCA):
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“I'm qualified now, but started out in nursing with no experience. Don't worry about comparing yourself to those who have experience. As I've pointed out in another post, just because they have caring experience doesn't mean they're necessarily any good at it. I, as a qualified, have had to correct student nurses with previous care experience on some very basic things before now. It doesn't give them the edge they, or you, think it does.

You will have to learn the ward/clinical area routine, but this will come quite quickly, and obviously will vary slightly from placement to placement.

Make sure you're well prepared for the placement. Give them a ring a few weeks in advance, to find out a bit more about the placement, who your mentors are, where to go on your first day, any pre-reading they would like you to do etc. (Plan all the questions you're gunna ask, and have a pen & paper to write down the answers!)

When on placement, ask lots of questions (Time them appropriately - i.e. not in the middle of a nurse administering medications etc), go to each shift with one or two ideas of what you would like to learn/achieve that day, and do as much additional reading as you can - this will really supplement your practical learning on placement as sometimes we don't have time to go through much theory with you, so it helps for you to be proactive in this. Also make sure you ask to spend time with members of the MDT such as physios and dietitians etc.” - 3 yrs ago (found on 02/09/20)

“Just be enthusiastic, turn up on time, speak to your mentor (obviously) but to other healthcare professionals - like physios, OTs etc. I'm sure you'd love it!” – 01/09/20


"Turn up to placement interested and ready to get stuck in. You can learn things in all sorts of clinical environments that can be applied to wherever you work in the future. It’s quite demoralising trying to mentor a student who is showing no interest, don’t be that student.

Take a little notebook on placement, they’re useful to jot down any terms or procedures you don’t know/understand, giving you the chance to research them later." 05/09/20

Some useful insights about hospital equipment (and their shortcomings), and future colleagues (and their shortcomings too I suppose ), and how to deal with this:
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“Do your absolute best to learn how to take a manual blood pressure properly. Automated machines you attach to the patients are used routinely, but sometimes their blood pressure is too high or low to be detected by the the machine, the reading the machine gives is way off what's usual for them, the machine just isn't working, etc. It saves an awful lot of time and hassle if you can do a manual one yourself.

Some doctors and medical students will talk down to you because they don't think you're as clever as them. Don't take it and tell them to treat you with respect. Have a good telephone manner, you will be calling all sorts of people and outside agencies. You need to be very comfortable and confident on the phone to get what you want out of the conversations.

If you make a mistake do not in any way try to cover it up. Tell whoever is supervising you immediately. Part of the NMC code of conduct is for you to be honest and transparent in everything you do. If it's later found out you lied about something, you will have a fitness to practice meeting with your uni course leader and they may kick you off the course.” 31/08/20

Advice about aggressive/difficult patients:
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The majority of the patients will be fine in adult nursing. Some are really lovely (all ages, not just the elderly), they appreciate what you're doing for them and you can have a chat and a laugh with them. Some don't want to chat at all, they just want to be treated as necessary and that's it, but they won't get aggressive. Just do what needs to be done for them and they're happy.


Some will kick up a fuss that XYZ isn't good enough and they want to make a complaint, but they will do it politely and not get aggressive (some people just want to be difficult because there's nothing else for them to do in hospital, even when in reality there's nothing to complain about). Just do what they say (after all it is their right as a patient to complain about anything, even if you don't think it's warranted), and all will be fine.

As I've said some patients will get aggressive but it's just part of the job. You just have to learn to accept that you're doing the best you can with what you're provided with and that's all you can do. You can chat to your colleagues about it and try and laugh about it, I find that helps. Then when you next have to interact with that aggressive patient, you just let it all fly over your head and realise whatever they're saying and doing really doesn't matter in the long run, you don't need to care as you have your own life outside of work without them.

Not all mental health patients are aggressive, some are nice and appreciative, and they don't get difficult. However in my experience, an awful lot of patients with mental health issues tend to get aggressive.”

From a student whos just finished her first year of study:
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"Overall, yes I've loved this year. However, I'd be lying if I said there weren't times when I hated it. Stressing over assignment deadlines while trying to write evidence pieces, working 12.5 hour shifts and trying to keep everything else together is one example!

My first placement was really far away from where I live and I had to stay in accommodation which made everything loads more stressful (and expensive!) But I've worked with some lovely people and helping people recover and improve and get back to their usual lives is its own reward ☺️

Why did I choose nursing? That's the hardest question! Like I wish I had a lovely, neat, interview approved reason why but I think it's an idea that developed in me over a long period of time & that has a lot of different motivations, reasons and experiences behind it.

I love working with people and I love a challenge but that's totally simplistic and really doesn't sum up why I'm putting myself through a really stressful three years! With everything I've seen this year, nursing really is a vocation and you can spot nurses who chose nursing for the wrong reason a mile off. You really do have to be dedicated and motivated by the right intentions to be a truly excellent nurse.(5 years ago)

"Is it difficult?"

YES! Nursing is 50% theory and 50% hands on placements. It's really difficult to be good at both and to juggle both at the same time.

I've seen people on this forum say that nursing isn't academic but that's just not the case anymore. We've had to learn so much about so many different topics. What's the point in being able to take a person's blood pressure if you don't know why you're doing it, the evidence behind it and, most importantly, what normal readings are and what to do if your patient's blood pressure isn't normal?

However, the academic side is only part of it. The most difficult part for me was getting into the mindset of being a student nurse on my first placement. You have to be quite assertive sometimes and seek out your own opportunities. That's really intimidating! It's really worth it though and you get so much more out of your placements if you look for what you can learn and get involved in and not just sit back and expect your mentor to hand you experience on a platter. Mentors have a job to do and it's not just to teach you.

It is difficult but it's really worth it. It's really satisfying getting good feedback on assignments you've slaved over and even more satisfying being able to do something new in practice that improves a person's experience of care." (5 years ago)

Student life in general:
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Start assignments early. Leaving them to the last minute can be disastrous." "Make time for yourself and your social life, family time etc.05/09/20


“Hi I just wondered, will I ever have to do both placement and theory at the same time?”

"Probably not. It's more normal for student nurses to have separate blocks of theory and placement, however some of your essay deadlines may be while you're on placement." 06/09/20

“Also, nobody really talks about the theory side of things. Is it usually difficult?”
"It gets more difficult each year - but only like A levels/access course/level 3 BTEC is more difficult than GCSEs. However, the majority of it is just making sure you've got the right stuff written down, ie written what the markers want to read (and that's the awkward bit!)" 06/09/20
Last edited by NurseCarol; 1 month ago
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Chloeh9
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is adult nursing beneficial, I don't know whether to go for mental health or adult and i really need to know
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NurseCarol
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(Original post by Chloeh9)
is adult nursing beneficial, I don't know whether to go for mental health or adult and i really need to know
Sorry to put you guys on the spot lol, but if any of you see this, maybe you can help with this? ^^^
Emily_B Jane91x moonkatt

I havent started my course yet myself, but I would ask you, do you have a passion for helping people with their mental health? Could you see yourself doing it everyday? (You could easily run into people with mental health problems in Adult Nursing anyway, but in MH Nursing it will obviously be the focus).
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Chloeh9
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(Original post by nursingstudentuk)
Sorry to put you guys on the spot lol, but if any of you see this, maybe you can help with this? ^^^
Emily_B Jane91x moonkatt

I havent started my course yet myself, but I would ask you, do you have a passion for helping people with their mental health? Could you see yourself doing it everyday? (You could easily run into people with mental health problems in Adult Nursing anyway, but in MH Nursing it will obviously be the focus).
I have an interest in it but I’m not sure if I’d be able to cope with it but I have always wanted to help people and animals since a young girl so I thought nursing would be the perfect opportunity to carry out these goals but I’m not sure which one to go for
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paub
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well you have 4 choices plus midwives .
learning disability nursing porobably the rarest but really interesting often with a social work qualification https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...sability-nurse
mental health again very interesting and challenging i consider it harder on the nurse https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...l-health-nurse
sick childrens nurse https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...hildrens-nurse
adult nursing though by far the most common but includes lot and lots of specialist roles https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...ng/adult-nurse
midwife https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...oles/midwifery
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Emily_B
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(Original post by Chloeh9)
is adult nursing beneficial, I don't know whether to go for mental health or adult and i really need to know
It depends on what group of people you want to look after. If you're more interested in mental health, go down that route. If it's physical health you're more interested in, do adult nursing.
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LilMonster
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I love this thread so much! I haven't applied yet but this was already super interesting, thanks!
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NurseCarol
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(Original post by LilMonster)
I love this thread so much! I haven't applied yet but this was already super interesting, thanks!
I'm glad you found it useful haha, makes me glad I shared it then
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MedicWil
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(Original post by Chloeh9)
is adult nursing beneficial, I don't know whether to go for mental health or adult and i really need to know
If you really can't decide between the two then there are dual courses that last for 4 years instead of 3.
I'm starting a MSci Adult and Mental Health Nursing With Leadership course at Leicester (integrated master's as I couldn't decide between the two either
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paub
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(Original post by MedicWil)
If you really can't decide between the two then there are dual courses that last for 4 years instead of 3.
I'm starting a MSci Adult and Mental Health Nursing With Leadership course at Leicester (integrated master's as I couldn't decide between the two either
some trusts and boards wont support duo registration remember when qualified you need to get the hours in for both. and revalidate both.
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Chloeh9
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(Original post by MedicWil)
If you really can't decide between the two then there are dual courses that last for 4 years instead of 3.
I'm starting a MSci Adult and Mental Health Nursing With Leadership course at Leicester (integrated master's as I couldn't decide between the two either
I might look into that
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