Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
Practice placement for mental health nursing students can be a daunting and potentially anxiety-provoking time, especially following the recent global pandemic.
A lot of the recent literature reviewing the experiences of nursing students in practice during the pandemic, talks about inadequate preparation being a significant stressor. This article discusses some survival tips on how to feel more prepared for going back out into clinical practice.
As we emerge from this most recent pandemic and with the fear of another wave, the state of society’s mental health has been noticeably impacted. Mental health services are now beginning to see this impact with more pressure on services.
Like with many groups of people, those who already had mental health issues prior to lockdown, have most probably received less one-to-one support, less or no access to volunteering, education and peer support opportunities.
This will have had an impact on their health and recovery. This also means, the settings you will be going into may well be over-stretched, short-staffed and the people using the services could be at their most vulnerable.
You may find that not much has changed within your setting since the pandemic. The principles of mental health nursing, including terminology and routines you knew before will not have changed significantly.
Mental health services have adapted very quickly to the pandemic such as, embracing remote working, which is a positive and may have longer term benefits for the service.
However this change in working process, the potential longer working hours to cover sickness and general worry of catching Covid-19 are all real stressors felt by current staff.
Be prepared for this as you may notice a general feeling of increased stress within your clinical area, which may be affecting the team as a whole.
Looking after yourself and each other
First and foremost, you need to take care of yourselves before you can effectively support others. Try some simple coping strategies, such as making sure you rest and take regular breaks during work or in-between shifts, try to eat well and engage in physical activity and stay in regular contact with family and friends.
Try to avoid using unhelpful strategies such as smoking or drinking to excess. This Covid-19 outbreak is a unique and unprecedented situation, however, using strategies that have worked for you in the past to manage times of stress, can really help you now.
Before you start placement
Contact the area by phone, introduce yourself and find out what they do. If you can, arrange a visit. This will help you feel more confident turning up on your first day.
Find out how the pandemic has impacted on this area of practice. Do your research about the area, including the client group, staffing, wider hospital or clinical setting and shift patterns. This will help you feel more prepared and hopefully more confident.
Ensure you are comfortable with the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE). If you have not completed training for this within your university, here is a YouTube video produced by Health Education England.
Ensure you take regular breaks to eat and drink and also prevent fatigue. Locate local support within your setting such as; occupational health, psychological or peer support.
Ensure you are sufficiently inducted into the clinical setting and read up on their policies.
Find out who or where you report any concerns you may have during placement and be open and honest.
Use your university support networks, such as personal tutor and peer support. It’s a privilege and immensely rewarding to support our clients – be kind and be safe!
Laurence Drew is field lead, mental health nursing and Vicky Naidoo is teaching fellow, mental health nursing; both at University of Surrey.