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How to Survive Your Management Placement



Student Nurse

You’re training and your career rest upon one final placement, it is the most important of them all, you must demonstrate to your ‘Sign-off Mentor’ that you are ready to qualify.

This post contains the advice I wish someone had told me prior to my management placement. While I encourage you to read the whole article, I’ll put the important bits in BOLD. 


The first thing you need to understand is that being a sign-off mentor is a big responsibility and as a Student Nurse you can’t just assume you will pass simply because you have made it through 3 years of training, a lot of people do and will carry on failing at the last hurdle. The next few months of your life will be a test, of sorts, the Registered Nurse you are assigned to will be looking at you, in great detail, to make sure you’re ready for life of a Nurse.

Now, every mentor is different, this isn’t going to be a guaranteed guide to passing your management placement, I am simply drawing from my own experiences as a sign-off mentor and the criteria I like my students to fulfill. 

First and foremost do a little research, take control of your education, you aren’t going to be spoon fed anymore – after all you won’t be as a Nurse. You need to have an idea about the speciality you have been assigned to before you arrive. For example, If your going to a respiratory ward make sure you know the basics about the conditions they treat (asthma, COPD, CF etc) and the difference between type 1 and type 2 respiratory failure. I can firmly recommend the Nursing Survival Guides by Ann Richards to assist you in this, they are fantastic! Small and pocketable you can take them to placements easily.

If you have been given an induction booklet, read it carefully.

Make sure you’re on-time, flexible and organised. This is something I can’t stress enough, in a few months when you’re a Registered Nurse you will need to be on time otherwise who will look after your patients? Demonstrate you can do this and your mentor is likely to be understanding when you need to swap a shift or have study time. We also understand you need a social life but don’t try to take us for idiots, be honest – we respect that.


The Universities change the paperwork mentors need to complete on a near daily basis make sure you know what needs signing and when.

Next you MUST have the right attitude when you’re at work, we understand that being a Student Nurse is hard, we’ve all been there, but you’ve got to demonstrate how much it means to you to have the title ‘Registered Nurse’.

We will want you to have good medications knowledge – in a few months you’ll be doing a drugs round by yourself. Make sure you have a good foundation and basic knowledge of; pain relief, antihypertensives, antiarrhythmics, diuretics, antibiotics and drugs that are specific to the area you’ll be working in. Invest in the ‘Drugs in use’ Survival Guide and carry it with you on medication rounds, if you don’t know a drug look it up quickly.

You will need to know your limitations and development needs. Know when to stop and ask for help, don’t just put on a front – ask questions! 

Don’t overstep the mark, admit that sometimes it’s best for you to take a step back and let the people with experience take over, speaking to irate families and dealing with delicate situations is something that comes with experience.

Make sure you take every learning opportunity during your placement, in a few months when you’re in numbers you won’t have the time to have an insight visit with a specialist nurse – do it while you still can.

Try and integrate into the team and demonstrate you are a team player, this will have a big effect on how you’re perceived on the ward and ultimately your reference. More than anything don’t be ‘too posh to wash’ – it will be something you’ll miss once you qualify.

Learn how to talk to patients, after all they are human beings too and need reassurance and comfort. I thoroughly enjoy having students who have great communication skills, as this is something that’s very hard to teach and therefore learn.

You need to respect the nursing assistants, sometimes they feel overstepped by over-zealous student nurses. If you respect them, they will respect and help you when you need it the most, remember effective delegation is an outcome!

Make sure you’re able to manage your time and a patient load, start off small 1 or 2 patients who you know everything about and increase this number as you go through your placement. Take a look at our Shift Planner for help planning your day and care.

These things combined will contribute to you having a smooth and effective management placement although all being said and done, it all falls down to if you can demonstrate to your mentor that you are safe and fit to practice.

Do you have any advice you could share with your fellow student nurses? Post it in the comments section! 

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Student nurses to receive ‘political lobbying lessons’

The session is designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge they can use to develop a good relationship with their local MP.



Nursing students will learn how they can work with MPs to promote the nursing profession in a new training session organised by the RCN.

Members of the RCN’s student committee and student information officers – the RCN’s representatives in universities – will learn their way around the UK parliament and the government from the UK Parliament Outreach and Engagement Service.


The session is designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge they can use to develop a good relationship with their local MP.

The RCN’s public affairs team will talk through the college’s approach to engaging with parliamentarians, especially the crucial role members can play. The team will explain different tactics and approaches students can take as well as what they can ask MPs to do to show their support for nursing staff in their constituencies.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “To work effectively, any union must be able to engage MPs and ministers.

“We know our members make the most powerful advocates for the profession. When frontline nursing staff sit in front of parliamentarians, you can see they listen.

“It’s through the hard work of members that vital issues such as safe staffing, harassment and health policy reach the top of the agenda.

“When nursing faces challenges on every front, the RCN wants to make sure our advocates are fully-equipped.”

Charlotte Hall, chair of the students’ committee, said: “Student nurses represent the future of the profession. Learning to engage with MPs is vital if we are to effectively shape that future and ensure the best possible care for patients.

“With these skills, committee members and student reps will be able to help other nurses make their voices heard on behalf of the profession and patients.”

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Nurse apprenticeships to introduced at nine more universities



Nursing apprenticeships are to be introduced at nine more universities in England by September 2018.

Nine universities are to be given part of a £4.9 million grant by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to devise their training programmes for nursing apprenticeships over the next year.


This is the second wave of investment from HEFCE’s Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund, designed to produce 4,500 apprentices from the following higher education establishments.

  • Coventry University.
  • Keele University.
  • Leeds Trinity University.
  • University of Cumbria.
  • University of Suffolk.
  • Southampton Solent University.
  • Birmingham City University.
  • Sheffield Hallam University.
  • Middlesex University.

Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, congratulated the universities provided with funding;

“They will now work with employers to develop new degree apprenticeship provision across a variety of sectors. This will help more people to access higher education, and to follow their chosen career, while closing the skills gaps in the economy”.

Last year, in its first wave of apprenticeship funding, HEFCE gave money to four universities so they could offer nurse apprenticeships from September 2017.

Alongside this plan, Health Education England revealed last month it intends to train up to 45,000 new nursing associates by 2027.

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RCN introduces new infection prevention course



The RCN has announced an innovative new course which will provide nurses working in infection prevention and control (IPC) with the skills to lead the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

The RCN Professional Development Course for Infection Prevention and Control is an introductory module designed for nurses working in the NHS, independent and social care sectors.


The course will prepare nurses working in or have an interest in IPC for the current and future challenges to their work resulting from antimicrobial resistance. It will be piloted in Spring 2018.

Resistance to antibiotics in health and care settings is increasing globally as well as in the UK. Public Health England’s campaign, “Keep Antibiotics Working”, recently highlighted the key role nurses can play in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Infection prevention and control and the work of IPC nurses is pivotal in reducing the need for antibiotics and combatting this threat in all care settings.

On the programme, participants will develop clinical and leadership skills in the prevention of infection, learn how to lead a service improvement project in their workplace and the most effective ways to manage and sustain change.

Rose Gallagher, RCN Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, said:

“The UK is leading the fight against antimicrobial resistance and the prevention of infection. Antibiotic resistance is a very real risk whereby simple infections are prolonged or become untreatable.

“Nurses have paved the way as clinical leaders in the prevention and management of infection and this course is responding to their current and future training needs. It will focus on practical work-based learning and develop specialist nurses that can adapt to changes in clinical practice and service provision in line with changes to health systems.

“It’s important we focus on the prevention of infection everywhere, not just in hospitals. The role of IPC nurses is constantly evolving and this course will help direct improvements to combat the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance in all settings.”

Further details about the course will be published in the New Year and expressions of interest can be registered on the RCN website.

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