Starting clinical placement is an exciting time for many nursing students. According to The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), over 180,000 students are studying to be nurses in 2021.
Placements are critical to a nursing student’s education journey, and most students undergo around 800 hours of it during their degree. Hence, it’s essential to know what to expect before starting your students’ placement.
3 Reasons Why Is Placement Important for Nursing Students?
While it may seem daunting, clinical placements are needed for a few reasons.
1. It gives nursing students first-hand experience
Nursing placements help students discover what it’s like to become a nurse and also hone their nursing skills. There is no better place to experience nursing than a placement because it allows students to finally put their theories into practice.
2. It helps nursing students learn much-needed skills
Studies show that students in clinical placements have more opportunities to see complex diseases and use specialised medical devices. Clinical placements not only give students the experience of practical nursing skills but also develops their interpersonal skills such as communication and critical thinking.
3. It allows nursing students to graduate with confidence
Without placements, students would be going straight to work without any prior experience in nursing, which is an even scarier thought! These experiences give them the time to learn in a controlled environment before going out into the real world.
3 Things Nursing Students Should Expect for Placement
Nursing placements can be a rewarding and challenging time in a nursing student’s life. Here are some of the things students can expect during their placement.
1. Nursing Students will start slow and move to higher-level tasks
Generally, first-year nursing students will perform simpler tasks such as taking patients’ vitals and assisting them in their daily activities. As students move up into their second and third years, they will perform higher-level duties such as administering medication and even delivering babies under supervision.
2. There will be shift work
Shift work is a natural part of nursing, and nursing students must work weekend and night shifts during their placement. Nursing shifts can range anywhere from 9 to 12 hours, and students will have to adapt to working long hours or throughout the night. So it’s important to adapt to this unavoidable requirement of a nursing job.
3. Nursing Students will work in various healthcare settings
Nursing placements rotate nursing students in many healthcare locations and departments. They will be placed in different private and public hospitals, clinics, and even aged care homes. Students may also be posted to regional areas and, in some cases, international locations during placements.
3 Tips on How Nursing Students Should Prepare for a Nursing Placement
Preparing for a first nursing placement is not as difficult as most nursing students think, and students should approach it efficiently prepared.
1. Do the research and be organised
Nursing students should do what they can to learn more about their placement site by reading through the hospital policies and their assigned department. Having an overview of what to expect will make things easier on the first day. Students should also come adequately equipped with notepads, pens, stethoscopes, and other necessities on their first day.
2. Be clear on duties
First-year nursing students will not be required to perform tasks above their capabilities, and all placement sites will understand their limitations. If a nursing student is given a job scope during placement, it’s good to compare this based on what was learned in college and communicate what they can and cannot do with their supervisor.
3. Be properly groomed
Nursing students should follow the proper grooming rules and wear the uniform set by the placement site. They should also refrain from wearing too much jewellery and ensure that their hair is tied back properly.
As a guide, there are many university students with a checklist of things to do before their placements, such as the University of South Australia.
3 Things to Do After a Nursing Placement as a Nursing Student
Once nursing students have completed their nursing placement, there are a few ways to ensure that they’ve gotten the most out of it.
1. Ask for feedback
Immediately after placement, students would compile and submit an assessment tool or a portfolio to their university. This assessment helps students reflect on their job and get feedback from their supervisors at the placement site. It’s also an excellent way to encourage nursing students to learn and improve for future placements.
2. Continue with nursing studies
Those who are currently in year one will have a few more students to go before they graduate. Meanwhile, nursing students who have completed their diplomas can choose to take their degrees to become registered nurses.
3. Decide if nursing is the right career choice
Sometimes, placements can show students that their preconceived idea of nursing is different from what’s experienced. However, opting out of nursing shouldn’t be made on a whim, and nursing students should consult their universities and experienced nurses before deciding.
3 Things to Consider With Nursing Placement
There are a few consideration factors that students should know about before going into their placement, with regards to placement choice, costs, and checks.
1. Choosing the placement
Most colleges will decide the nursing placement location for nursing students, and it would generally include at least one rural post. However, colleges do allow students to list their preferred site, which will be subjected to approval and availability.
2. Understand placement costs
Costs of placements, such as lodgings, food, and transport, are borne by the students entirely. However, most colleges offer financial support and subsidies to those unable to afford the cost. It’s essential to check accommodation and transport prices before a placement, especially if it’s a regional or international one.
3. Completing immunisations and checks
All students will have to undergo the required immunisation for healthcare workers, such as Hepatitis and Tuberculosis. Plus, they also need to get yearly COVID-19 and Influenza vaccinations. Colleges will additionally require a valid National Police Check and Working With Children Checks and NDIS Worker Screening Checks. A full list of requirements will be provided clearly by the university.
It’s normal to be nervous before starting a nursing placement, but with proper guidance and planning, it’s a significant step in becoming a nurse. For more nursing information, sign up for our newsletter today for news updates and career placements tips.