How I Prep For Placement

So probably like a lot of you guys reading, I've just started placement. Now being a second year I feel like there's a bit more pressure than in first year as in first year people are genuinely surprised when you know what you do. I know it's a cliche but before placement I always think of the phrase 'If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!'. 

First things first is find out your placement area, that with what year you are decides what prep you are going to do. My university uses a web based system called PLSS (Practice Learning Support System) this tells us everything from who to contact, to what the specific ward or area does to what shifts we could be doing. I don't know if all universities use this or something similar but it's a great jumping off point for your prep. Now from this system I found out that the ward I am on is a cardiology and respiratory ward which lead me to the next step.

Secondly regardless of what ward or area I am going to be on, I always brush up on my A&P relating to that area. Pull out those lovely expensive anatomy and physiology books that cost you so much in first year, most books on certain systems e.g. Cardiology will have a little A&P section in it as well. It always comes in useful if you ever encounter a patient who doesn't quite understand what they are in hospital for/post talk with the doctor (yes doctors, sometimes your patients are too stunned by what you have said to process and form questions before you dash off to your next patient!) so you often have to regurgitate information in a more 'normal' person speech than our medical jargon. 

Once you've found out what your specialised area does and refreshed your anatomy & physiology it's helpful to know what common conditions your going to be encountering. Throughout your training and being a registered nurse you will become more familiar with different conditions from the common to the really rare! It's best to start off simple, if you're on a respiratory ward look up asthma, COPD get to know them and the different aspects to the condition. If you're on a elderly ward look at diabetes, arthritis etc, you'll encounter these common conditions in your reading around the specific area. 

Dependent on where you are in your training, depends on what your next step will be. In my second year I actually have to complete a medication OSCE whilst on placement, that requires me knowing what certain drugs are and what they do as well as contra-indications and side-effects. One thing I will say is start learning your drugs early, learn your basic analgesia and a couple of drugs relevant to your placement area. This then develops and increases through time and you'll soon know tons. You will find once you register, you will specialise into an area e.g. Surgical, Care of the Elderly, Vascular, Post-op, these areas will have certain drugs that they will come into contact with on a daily basis which will vary dependent on area. 

Lastly I am going to talk about getting organised, making sure you are all ready to go it definitely makes you feel better on your first day. The week or two before you start its always worth popping in showing your face and also to get your first weeks hours, you can also mention then if there is something you have to complete whilst on placement. For instance I have to complete a medication OSCE and a public health educational talk that I then put into a report, this all has to be signed off by my mentor.

This is also useful for planning and test-driving your route to placement, it is also handy as some hospitals require you to have one of their ID badges for things like swipe access to the wards and hospital instead of your usual university ID badge and if like me you drive this is the time that is handy for sorting out things like parking permits as they can take up to a week as well, not good if you have to pay a fair couple of quid to park for a shift. I also use this week before to get my uniform and get all the bits ready that I carry with me on shift.

Let me know if you guys do anything different to prepare for your placements...

Danielle Levy

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