Recently I have been receiving a lot of messages asking for tips for starting at a new placement area so I thought I would post my tips which you can refer to throughout your course.
1. Introduce yourself.
I always phone up or email the practice area to introduce myself and arrange a visit before my placement begins. I feel this creates a good first impression as it shows that you are an eager student and excited to begin your placement with them.
2. Arrange a visit.
This really helps me to combat the first day nerves! By going in you can practice your travel journey, become familiar with the route and, if applicable, find out where you need to park and how much it will cost you. I always ask for a tour so I have a rough idea of where everything is kept and where to drop off your things at the start of your shift. Some placement areas may also give you the code to the door so on your first day you can head straight in. Whilst you are there, make sure you meet your supervisor or assessor so you have a familiar face on your first day. This always makes me feel more at ease. If possible, also ask for your shifts. I usually ask for at least my first week but if they can give you more shifts then that’s great because it allows you to organise your time.
3. Do your homework.
Some placements may give you a pack or a ‘student guide’ to read through and quizzes to complete. I would urge you to read this and complete the questions as these packs are designed to prepare you for that practice area. I find them really useful for learning the abbreviations used in that area and common illnesses or conditions you are going to be exposed to, so when you have that first handover you have more understanding. Research your practice area. Learn what sort of patients you will be caring for and familiarise yourself with any treatments, medications or conditions you are likely to come across.
4. Prepare your practice book.
I know that the new intake of students now complete their work online but this still applies. Make a list of what pages needed to be completed and when throughout your placement block. I put sticky notes on each page that needs to be completed and date them so that I am organised before my placement starts. You will find in certain areas that finding the time to complete your paperwork can be tricky so when you do find that time you don’t want to waste it by finding the right page and reading to see what needs to be completed at each stage. This tip will help you immensely but your supervisor/assessor will also love you for it!
5. Get everything ready the night before.
I always make my lunch, pack my bag and get my uniform out and ready the night before my shift starts so I don’t feel rushed in the morning. This is just another way of being super organised so you don’t start your placement feeling flustered!
I hope that these tips will make those first days on placement feel a little easier and help to keep the nerves at bay. For those of you going out on your first placement, please be kind to yourselves. Everyone will understand that you will be feeling nervous and I promise that as your course progresses those first days won’t feel so daunting.