Nursing placement top tips

Tips and tricks to get through your first placement as a student nurse

Written by Rebecca Lalor


As a first year student nurse, it seemed as if the whole of the latter half of the Christmas holidays were consumed by the act of worrying and feeling anxiety in the days leading up to placement. I felt overwhelmed by the idea of it all, stressed in a way over how I would cope with everything. At this current moment, with two twelve hour shifts completed and under my belt, it is safe to say that I feel a lot less stressed. Getting stuck in and started, on a lovely ward with nice staff, I feel calm and have a lot more positivity.

I feel that a lot of you that are waiting to start or have either just started like myself, could benefit by reading my little tips and tricks. I don’t write with experience, but a lot of what I will write has been passed on by older student nurses to me and is solid advice.

Try to be positive even with the early starts

Grumble about the early morning starts with your peers, but do not take it out on yourself. When the alarm goes off for me at 05:40, it takes a lot to pull away and resist the negativity that if allowed, will pump through my brain putting me in an ugly mood for my commute. It’s a lot easier to just get on with it. Get up, go make your strong coffee and sip it while you splash your face and get dressed.

Throw on the radio

Listening to early morning conversation and tunes on Today FM really helped me lots on my first two mornings. You feel almost as if it is time to start the day. If other people are up in the city, then you can be too.

Listen to music on your commute and your breaks

Good music is the way that I relax and keep my own mood bright. It helps to go into handover humming a song that you love in your head. It will help put yourself in a sunnier mood, and if you’re feeling clear headed yourself, then that will get passed on to your patients.

Stay on top of assessments that need to be done with your preceptor.

You’ll feel more in control in the long run plus have a super neat document to hand it at the end of it all instead of crumpled, last minute pages.

Eat well

Not only during shift but on your days off too. I’m a girl with low blood sugars, so to stop getting too low and dizzy it’s important that I get enough glucose through natural sweets or polo mints. I bring Belvita biscuits in my bag as they slow-release carbohydrate over a course of four hours, but I’m sure that there are a lot of great recipes out there to make some high oats and protein bars.

Stay hydrated on the ward

It gets quite warm with all of the physicality that is involved in nursing as a profession, so I like to keep a big bottle of fresh water at the nurses' station and refill it on my breaks.

Learn that hand cream is your new best friend

I didn’t realise how much your hands can break down until my first day. With washing your hands more than fifty times a day, comes dry and cracked skin. Neutrogena do a really good moisturising cream which I like to rub in before going to sleep. The same goes for your feet.

Wear decent soled shoes.

Trust me, you’ll feel it otherwise.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t watch Netflix on your days off

Relaxing is so important, you’ll constantly feel on edge and tired from the previous day if you don’t chill out and go running/watch a series/meet friends.

Just enjoy it! 

Already there have been a few moments where I have questioned my own strength to do this course and profession, but I just remind myself to pace myself and keep learning, learning, learning, at every opportunity.

Best of luck!

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