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Ten placement tips for nursing students


Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

22 November 2019

As I approach the first placement of my third year (I know, it is as petrifying as it seems!) I look back to my first placement. What do I wish I'd known beforehand? Here are my hints and tips.

My first placement was on a care for the elderly ward. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was great for me as prior to beginning my nursing degree I had no care experience.

I remember the night before my first day on placement. Who will I be with? What’s my mentor like? Will I get there on time? Will I have everything on me? Yes, the questions can go on for hours!

I would like to share with you a few tips I could have used on my first day.

  • You only need two pens… not ten! The second pen is if the first runs out. Something I and a few of my fellow students find useful is getting a pen with more colours on it so that you can draw attention to different things on your handover sheet in different colours. Or take a highlighter along with you.
  • Take a little notebook that fits in your pocket. This has been helpful to me as when I hear things I don’t know about, like diagnoses or drugs in a drug round, I can jot them down and keep them with me. I think I’ve got through five in my two years so far.
  • Drink plenty of water: there are places on the ward you can fill your bottle up but stay hydrated!
  • Take plenty of food that is high in energy, like pasta for lunch so that your energy is released throughout the day, along with fruit and cereal bars.
  • When you get on the ward, pop a spare pair of gloves in your pocket. You don’t know when you may need them throughout the day.
  • Ensure you have your nurse watch and badge with the correct epaulettes.
  • Refrain from using a lanyard for your ID badges as some trusts don’t like them due to infection control. Get yourself a retractable clip to keep on your pocket.
  • Make sure your shoes are black, leather and most importantly, very comfortable! Leather is so important as if there is a spillage of any liquid it can easily be wiped off.
  • Hand cream is vital. As I wash my hands a lot during the day, my hands get quite dry and cracked so hand cream is a definite for me.
  • Have a read-up of things surrounding the ward, when you know where you are going. For example, if you're going to a cardiac ward, have another look at your bioscience around the cardiac system and commonly used drugs in the field.

I hope this was helpful when approaching your first day on nursing placement. Good luck!

Here at ARU, you can specialise in adult, child or mental health nursing – with some courses offering January as well as September starts. Wondering if nursing is the career for you? Check out our nursing pages or come and explore on an Open Day.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.