Part A

podPart A Podcast

Podcast about going on placement:


Voices from Students

Beginning your nursing studies – Sarah Parkes, learning disability nursing student

As I waited to start university I anticipated that on my first day I would be told a mistake had been made, I should not be there! As time went by I realized that I was there for the duration, the good, bad and the ugly, how that scared me. I kept thinking about the negatives, have I made a mistake, do I have what it takes?

At times I felt lonely, as I live with my children without any other personal support network, a considerable distance away from the university. Travelling meant early mornings and late nights. I was prepared to be committed to the course, but not for it to take over my life! What kept me going was ‘it will be worth it in the end’.

To succeed I devised a strategy – concentrate on one module at a time. I felt totally out of my depth, so being organized seemed the best idea. Make sure you are prepared, consider the time you will need to put in outside university hours. Break everything down, travelling time, university days, placements, extra study hours, and remember time for your family and friends.

Your job – Ali Chapman, adult nursing student

It is now your job as a nursing student to set an example to other students and patients in order to succeed in your role as a valued healthcare professional. A nursing course not only requires you to act professionally within practice, it also involves you acting in a professional manner at all times.

Time – Alice Rowe, newly qualified mental health nurse

Time is a luxury as a both a student and qualified nurse. Sometimes it is difficult to complete all tasks by the end of a shift. It is important to prioritize to ensure that we provide safe care. Learning to manage time effectively will help you balance work commitments and look after your own wellbeing inside and outside of work.

Academic writing  – Sarah Parkes, learning disability nursing student

There is more to academic writing then words on a paper. There has to be a theme, structure, and a plan, is there a word count that has to be considered or a deadline. Write a plan, factoring in the deadline and make sure you allow time for proof reading. Gain feedback from your personal advisor as how your writing is coming on and advice on if any changes need to be made. Failure to meet deadlines will occur penalties, so allow plenty of time for proof reading and printing and handing it in.

Maintaining professional boundaries- Sarah Parkes, learning disability nursing student

Since becoming a LD student nurse it has made me think about my attributes, before starting university I always looked at the skills I could not do as to the skills I already had. I believed skills were something to learn and never about the skills I have as I could complete them. It has made me realize what one person can do another may not. The importance of understanding my own attributes and not inflicting my view on others, to be non-judgemental. 

cwWhy this is important to know- Alice Rowe, newly qualified mental health nurse—pg 4 

It is important to remember that as nurses we are expected to uphold our professionalism throughout our personal and professional lives. Whilst this does not mean that we cannot relax outside of work and let off steam, I know that if I were to witness an individual act in an irresponsible manner I would find it difficult to trust them to manage my care if I were unwell.

cwEffective Communication – Alice Rowe, newly qualified mental health nurse—pg 18 

As a student I learnt how important communication is. Part of effective communication involves learning to write clear and concise notes for other staff members to read. Throughout my training I struggled with academic writing and with the assistance from lecturers I was able to gain support to help me develop my writing skills. The skills I learnt as a student have helped me as a newly qualified to write clear care plans for my patients.

cwTime management- Katrina Polfrey, child nursing student—pg

The most challenging thing for me has been developing coping strategies to deal with the emotional aspects and impact of the course. The workload, particularly when on placement and needing to complete essays can be very high and takes a lot of energy and time management to ensure deadlines are met, which can be challenging at the beginning and end of the course. Time management strategies are essential. 

cwImportance of relating theory to practice- Alice Rowe, newly qualified mental health nurse- pg 30

Theory allows us to create a base from which we can derive a care plan to meet a set of diagnostic criteria. Practice allows us to use the theory and adapt it to the individual we care for. Without combining both theory and practice we are unable to establish care that will meet the patient’s needs medically, psychologically, socially and emotionally.

cwHow reflection improves practice- Sarah Parkes, learning disability nursing student—pg 36 

Before starting uni, people said I overthink things and never really knew what they meant, but now I realize I was reflecting. Asking many questions on placement about things that happen and needed to know the reasons why something had not happened so I could understand why. Putting it in to words is difficult however, with time it helps and gives you something to look back on and see how you have developed and changed the way to work or see things differently. 

cwHow reflection improves practice- Alice Rowe, newly qualified mental health nurse—pg 36 

Learning to reflect as a student nurse allowed me to assess my strengths and weaknesses and identify how I can work on my weaknesses. It also helped me identify many skills nurses have that can be adapted to face many circumstances. Reflective practice has made me a more self-aware individual and helped me build confidence in areas that I struggled with throughout my training. 

cwWhy proofreading is important -- Siân Hunter, child nursing student—pg 49 

Proof reading will prevent you losing marks. After you have read over your essay a hundred times, and you will, I think the small things get missed. Sometimes leaving it a few days and going back with fresh eyes or getting someone else to read it for you will pick up silly mistakes. Adhering to word limit keeps you focused and ensures you bring together the important elements of your essay. The word count prevents you ‘waffling on’ and helps you to cut out what is irrelevant. I think it is always best to be organized and in front than behind. It will prevent your work being panicked and rushed. 


cwAcademic writing tips -- Alice Rowe, newly qualified mental health nurse—pg 55 

Academic writing takes up a considerable amount of our lives as students. Therefore, it is only fair that we should be proud of the work we produce. By proof reading we can iron out any grammatical errors and highlight any potential quotes that could be viewed as plagiarism because we may not have referenced them correctly. At the same time it would be equally frustrating if we were to lose marks on our work due to exceeding the word limit or handing in the work late. 

cwPortfolio tips -- Sarah Parkes, learning disability nursing student—pg 59 

Look at the criteria for your portfolio and keep all documents that are needed together, when you have completed the work add it straight to the portfolio to stop it getting lost. The criteria will give you a layout of all the work needed to layout, keep it tidy and organized and work on the portfolio as you go through the year to stop last minute rushing and missing items out. 


Voices from Nurses 

Why become a nurse – Orla McAlinden, Lecturer in Nursing (Children & Young People)

I am an adult nurse, children's nurse and Lecturer in nursing at QUB. I qualified as an adult nurse in 1982 and a child nurse in 1985.

I always wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to care and help others and make a difference to the health potential of others. From a very young age I ran a 'ward' populated by sick dolls! They always got better!

I enjoy making a difference in someone's life, helping people to maximize their health and working with others in a multidisciplinary team. My favourite career experiences were in paediatric intensive care and neonatal intensive care. It's such a privilege to work with skilled professionals.

There are many difficult and challenging things involved in being a nurse, there's bound to be when you work so closely with others in a team and with vulnerable children and families. Probably the most challenging thing is learning to balance emotional involvement and caring within professional boundaries, especially where children are concerned.

I currently provide respite care for a one-year-old child, my great nephew. He had a difficult start to his life, infantile spasms and arthrogryposis, and continues to have complex care needs and is what is known as ‘life limited’. His seizures are sometimes difficult to control; he has severe developmental delay and learning disability. His first year of life has been a stormy journey.

As a children's nurse I can help out by sharing my skills and time to ensure that my niece can get some quality time of her own, safe in the knowledge that her son is safe and well cared for. It is difficult to get respite care for this wee one as his needs are many and complex. It is good that I can help too with the difficult experiences involved in being a parent with a child who has ongoing care needs. Traversing a healthcare system is often confusing and frightening for both children and parents alike.

My advice to a student nurse would be give it ‘your all’. It's still a vocation as well as a career for life, with many opportunities and much variety, so get stuck in and enjoy the difference you can make for others. So much has changed over the many years of my career in children's nursing.

Children are cared for in their families and communities much more frequently these days, hospital stays are much shorter and the needs of children and their families can be much more complex and challenging. The voice of the child is listened to more often these days, though we still have some way to go in this respect. Caring for children and young people as a nurse is as exciting, diverse and rewarding a career as you can get. There is much laughter and a few tears too.

Would I do it all over again? Yes, without a doubt.

Training, job satisfaction, enthusiasm – Rachel Hauser, Breastfeeding Co-ordinator, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

My role is as a clinical nurse specialist in breastfeeding and lead for UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation at MYHT. I am a qualified Nurse, Health Visitor and a lactation consultant (IBCLC).

I always wanted to be a nurse. Nursing was a respected career, with excellent vocational training and boundless career choices and opportunities that I knew would allow me to develop personally in a life-long career.

Nursing gives me job satisfaction – I enjoy the vast breadth and depth of the profession, the sense of belonging, and it sounds corny, but every day being able to make a difference to the clients and colleagues I work with. I like being able to lead, encourage, educate and enthuse my colleagues and to look back at how far we have come and how much we have achieved together. I originally trained as an orthopaedic nurse, then as an SRN, Midwife and Health Visitor. As my career progressed I developed a special interest in breastfeeding and finally in 2006 took on the role as Breastfeeding Specialist and lead for UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation. Each element of my career and each experience has given me the knowledge and skills that I use today in my current role.

The hardest thing about being a nurse is maintaining my enthusiasm to lead and encourage my colleagues whilst dealing with the constant changes in NHS structure, management, medicine and attitudes to care.

I work with a Trust that covers three hospitals and a large community and we have achieved the UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation for the whole of our Trust. It is a huge achievement made through educating, motivating and encouraging fellow colleagues to embed policies and good standards that promote baby friendly practice. The Trust being accredited as UNICEF Baby Friendly means that staff are knowledgeable and confident to offer an informed choice. We are able to support women no matter how they choose to feed their babies, and as a result our breastfeeding rates have tripled, and our community has increasing lifelong health benefits as a result. This makes me feel that my career has had made a big difference.

My advice to a student nurse would be don’t ever forget the situation may be an everyday occurrence to you but for your patient it often isn’t, a smile and a kind word is a great place to start. Be patient and be considerate.


Voices from Patients 

Down’s syndrome and chicken pox, with thanks to Mencap – Lucy, 18 months

My daughter Lucy who has Down’s syndrome was 18 months old when she became very ill following chicken pox. She was transferred to Alder Hey as an emergency from Lancaster and following surgery to drain fluid from around her heart we all thought she would improve. 

However, she deteriorated further and was transferred to intensive care. I clearly remember asking the doctors and nurses for reassurance that they would not let the fact that Lucy has Down’s syndrome stop them from trying to save her life.

I needn't have worried; Lucy's disability was not an issue. She received outstanding treatment and thankfully she survived.

Four years on Lucy is a thriving five and a half year old, she is talking, walking and is beginning to read. The staff at Alder Hey intensive care deserve every recognition for treating my little girl with dignity, respect and for valuing her life.