Initiating the placement visit
The Nursing and Midwifery council regulates the practice of all nurses and midwives registered within the UK (NMC, 2015). As a result, they determine the structure of the nurse-training course in order to ensure that all students are ready to enter the register at the end of the programme. The structure of the course unlike many others is half theory and half practice. What this means is that students spend 50% of the course in the university exploring the theoretical aspects of nursing. While, other 50% of the time is spent within placement where the theory that is learnt is put into practice (NMC, 2010). In reality, the prospect of attending placements can be both an exciting and daunting prospect for most students at university especially for those in the first year.
This article is aimed at students from all disciplines of nursing. When students receive placement information, the university expects them to undertake an initial placement visit. This visit is normally initiated by a phone call to the placement area by the student. Making phone calls have become very mundane tasks. However, when it comes to making the phone call to book placement visits, the author has observed that students can find the simple task very daunting. The article will consider some steps to take before and during the call to help simplify this task and to keep it as simple as it is intended to be.
Before making the phone call
Calm down and stay composed. At the end of the day, it is just a phone call. The people in the placement area will probably be used to having students. That means it is very likely that they are willing to help.
Be organized. Look at your diary. Make sure you know the days you are expected to be at university. Take note of free days and be flexible about the time you will be available. It may be worth having your diary nearby. There is nothing more annoying than selecting a date and finding out later that you have lectures on that day.
Get the phone number. Check the email for this. If it has been omitted, don’t panic. You can call the placement office. Sometimes, the phone numbers on the placement directory may be outdated. Imagine how many student placement areas organized by the placement office. You can search for the website of the placement area online. Call the switchboard and ask to be transferred to the ward or area you require. If you do not know the contact person, just ask to be linked with a mentor or staff member who manages the students. That person will most likely have specific details.
Talk to other students. Find out what others are doing. Don’t isolate yourself. It is always nice to interact and get support from others within your cohort. Sometimes there may be others in your class who are posted to the same place as you. You can arrange a group visit to reduce anxiety. They may also have more up to date information about the area if they have already called or visited.
During the phone call
Relax and stay calm. Remember, it is just a phone call. Placement areas are filled with helpful staff who are aware of your potential anxiety. Don’t panic, if the person sounds a bit distracted. It may be a busy day within the placement area. Staff aim to be professional but being human makes them prone to error.
Make your first impression count. First impressions can be daunting when you are on the phone. So use your tone of voice, pitch and calmness to help you maintain your composure. This will help you come across as confident.
Write down your questions. This will save you from forgetting any information you want to know about. It may also reduce anxiety by making you more attentive and present during the conversation. Sometimes worrying about forgetting important niggling questions can be stressful.
Listen. Try to listen during the conversation with the mentor or staff. Resist the temptation of talking over the person. Let them finish their sentences before you start speaking. It shows respect for the other party.
Have a paper and pen to hand. This will help you write down important information during the conversation. For example details like time to attend the visit, who to ask for and so on.
Ask if you need to bring in documents. Some placement areas require you to come in with your DBS clearance documents. Others may want you to bring some official identification especially if you are going into a secure service area.
Take some time. Take time to recap all the information you have received during the call. This reduces the risk of omitting important information like where to go, what time to arrive, whom to see, etc. it also makes the other party know that you were listening.
In conclusion, after you have scheduled the visit, you may begin to feel less anxious because you have taken control of the situation (NHS Choices). These steps discussed above can be taken before and during the call to the placement area to prepare students for the placement learning opportunity.
Nursing and Midwifery Council (2015) The Code. Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. London: NMC.
Nursing and Midwifery council (2010) Standards for pre-registration nursing education. London: NMC
Thanks for reading
Written by Lauretta Ofulue
Photo credit: Pixabay