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The University of Southampton

So, it's your first day...

Nursing students were all asked the same question:

Having done a placement, what would you say to someone who was beginning an Nursing placement for the first time?


Oh my goodness.  Study. Second and third year it gets really tough, learn it while you can, while you have the time. Otherwise you may realise that it's actually really important to study, you'll kind of feel quite out of your depth, and maybe that ‘you should have paid more attention to those lectures on gastroenter - the gastro something like that - aah'.


Take every opportunity you're offered.  Unless you're really squeamish, never say no.  Just get stuck in, go for it. While you've got a mentor there you've got someone looking over your shoulder permanently, you can't go wrong, just give it a go.  Get stuck in and get involved as much as you possibly can.  Because where you are supernumerary, you're never going to get that sort of experience again to try everything out, so just go for it.


I think it's good to be nervous.  I think I'd be a little bit worried if I wasn't scared on my first day at all. Also don't ever hesitate to ask anything.

And it's very important to have enough time to yourself just to relax, even if it's just for half an hour, especially when you've got Uni work to do as well.


I'd say smile, be friendly and just show that you're willing.  Don't necessarily initiate, because you can't really do that straight away, but definitely show that you are willing to help. Respect your mentors; you've got to respect the people you work with, even if you don't particularly like them that much.  Remember that you're a student nurse; you're there to learn.

Image of a nursing student on a placement
Nursing Student on Placement

I would say just - oh just so much -make the most of everything, ask loads of questions, make sure you understand everything.  Get a notebook; write down anything that's useful.  Keep a diary of everything, every experience you have.  Make notes of drugs, learn drugs.  Ask to do things.  If somebody offers you to do something, if you think you can do it, go for it.  Go on lots of visits.  Just take every opportunity you can get.


Get stuck in with the learning manual handling and essential care. Don't worry about drugs, don't worry about going off ward, don't worry about any of those things. Show that you're willing to work hard, do what they ask of you.  And when you've built up a relationship, maybe in the latter part of the placement, say, "Would you mind if I do this?  Would it be possible to do this?" Building up good working relationships are really important.


Seek learning opportunities yourself. Make sure you speak up and say, "Oh can I learn how to do that?  Can I watch that?"  Because there is so, so much to learn. You can't get far in your placement if you never learn how to do certain things.

I learnt a few different drugs, as to what they were for, but you need to know a lot more. You need to look them up; it would have been easier if, on day one, I just took a few, looked them up and wrote them down.


Expect everything and anything, because you don't know what you're going to get. Keep optimistic and open-minded and go with the flow. You need to be calm - calm, cool and collected.

Make the most of everything and ask lots of questions. Get a notebook and write anything that’s useful

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