For anyone, raising a concern can seem scary but, especially if you are a student. I have had a number of people contacting me saying that they have seen or heard unsafe practice and are too afraid to, or unsure whether to, raise their concern.
It is easy to doubt your concerns against a more senior member of staff because they must be right, right? They have been doing this for years and have a wealth of knowledge so who I am, as a student with only weeks worth of experience, to challenge their practice? That is where we often go wrong and unsafe practice continues. At university and out in placement we are taught what is right and what is wrong and this adds to our own moral compass. If you see or hear something that doesn’t feel right or goes against what you have been taught, you have a responsibility to question that practice.
The fear element of raising a concern often comes from the worry of being wrong. That in actual fact, that individual’s practice is supported by evidence or experience. However, I would rather raise a concern and be told that their practice is safe and appropriate, than stay quiet and not voice my concerns and consequently their poor practice continues. I always care for and treat my patients as if they are a member of my own family or a close friend. If I witnessed unsafe practice when someone was caring for a family member I wouldn’t hesitate to raise my concern. Therefore, I do the same for my patients.
If you don’t have the confidence to raise the concern with the individual themselves, take your concern to the nurse in charge, ward manager, back to your university or whoever is most appropriate. They will value and be sensitive to your concern. We have a unique role as a student. We enter a practice area with a fresh pair of eyes and the most up-to-date knowledge. We can quickly pick up on practice that goes against what we are taught. If you have to question whether practice is safe or not, then the chances are it isn’t! I often find that once something is said, it then encourages others to speak up and raise their concerns so have the confidence to go first.
My answer to any questions I receive about poor and unsafe practice have been, and always will be, speak up and raise the concern.